This has been a sad week for our family.
Our younger son has been struggling with his mental health for the past three months, and we have been struggling with mental health services, trying to get them to understand that he is far worse than they imagine.
Since the second anniversary of his sister Lavinia’s death, he has become more and more detached, and over the past month or so has been living in a fog of confusion. He has been a worry to all of us who love him.
I have had visits from the community police, who were concerned to know why he was behaving so irrationally in town, and from various shopkeepers. No-one has been judgmental of him – apart from many in the mental health service, who were sure he was taking drugs.
On Thursday we finally had a message to say they were considering hospitalizing him.
I had been in meetings in Wellington and Jill was concerned that our son was not home, but he was at home when we got back from collecting me from the train.
We settled down for the evening, and our son started going onto the back steps for his smokes.
At one stage I realised he was not there. His shoes were on the steps but he had gone.
I raced into town and could not find him. I then had a voice tell me he was in Pownall Street, a suburban street near our house. I drove there and found him, on a dark and stormy night, walking in black clothing and barefooted, down the middle of the road.
He came home with me.
We rang mental health services – and were told there was nothing they would do, and we should lock out doors!
The following day his case worker rang and finally agreed we had to do something for him, and he went into hospital in Lower Hutt, a 80 minute drive from here.
We went to see him today. He is obviously sedated, and is slightly confused still, but hopefully he is in the right place to get back on the road to wellness.
Years ago, when he was still a teenager, he and I, along with his brother, went to Rotorua to see his sister, us males staying in a motel. In the morning he got up and went for a walk, after I had gone for a run. He got lost in Kuirau Park, a thermal park opposite the Rotorua Hospital. He was in the middle of the park, alongside a steaming pool, wondering how he would find his way out, when I appeared out of the mist – not knowing he was missing, or where he was.
It’s what fathers like to think they can do.
They can rescue their children – even when they don’t know they need rescuing.
I now know I cannot do that. He and I stood at Lavinia’s bed, overlooking Kuirau Park, the weekend before she died, the last time we three were together.
I could not save Lavinia.
I cannot find my son.