|Our 3-year-old nail painter, Macy Heart.|
I can’t wait to tell you this story.
Two weeks ago, my three-year-old daughter went Picasso on my toe-nails. She chose the color black and painted nine of the ten. She got distracted before finishing the pinky toe on my left foot.
It’s been beautiful outside, but I’ve yet to break out my Chacos, mainly because of my current toe-decor. I’m sure some nail polish remover would do the trick, but that stuff just smells awful.
Thankfully, I had not cleaned the paint off before this morning.
A few hours ago, I went to visit one of my high school friends, let’s call him Nick. He’s currently in our city’s version of a “juvenile psych ward.”
I got the awful phone call last week from Nick’s dad.
“Drew, Nick tried to take his life, but by God’s grace, he wasn’t successful.”
After running away and throwing-up over thirty sleeping pills, he passed out in the middle of the woods. When he regained consciousness, he came to his senses and told his parents what had happened. The next day, he willingly checked in to the hospital.
This morning, after going through security, I walked into the psych ward cafeteria to visit Nick. Two dozen normal looking teenagers stood like soldiers in line for an early lunch. All of them were locked in this facility because of attempted suicides. I spotted Nick in the front of line pushing his tray of spaghetti and chocolate milk.
He seemed happier than an “inmate” should appear, but he’s typically that way, at least on the outside.
We sat in the back corner of the threadbare lunchroom. The chairs weighed a ton, probably so no one could throw them and injure one another.
I didn’t come with a plan or bring a lecture in my back pocket. My thoughtful wife kindly reminded me on the way out the door: “Ask questions instead of offering solutions.”
Ultimately, I just wanted to know why, but wasn’t sure I could even ask that. But I did.
“It’s simple Drew. I’ve hated myself since 6th grade. I just thought the world would be better off without me in it.”
After a few more questions, the deeper truth started to surface.
Nick felt like he never fit the mold for the son his dad longed for him to be.
“My dad’s a manly man and into guy stuff. I know it’s silly, but I just like fashion and things like painting my nails. I wanted to paint them black but, every time I did, he made me wipe them off. I didn’t want to paint them because I want to be a girl, but just because I think it looks cool. But my dad hates it. And honestly, I think he hates me.”
I didn’t say anything.
I just took off my shoe.
And then my sock.
And then he smiled.
From that moment on, he started opening up even more.
I’m heading back to visit with him in the morning.
And I might just wear my Chacos.