It has been a month or so since Taylor went missing, and got found in the Ruahine. This past month has found me vacillating between extreme highs and very melancholic lows. Highs in that, in moments, I feel so completely alive, and so understanding of what is important in my world and the things I do, a deep love I can barely contain for Taylor, Tara, Charlie, and the people I love, (and why should I contain it?), a desire and understanding of Wild Places and what they mean to me and the truth of what operating in such places means. I feel an awareness of sight, sound, vibrant colours and tones I have not seen before come into view. I find reasons to be physically close to my sons, when I touch my wife and look at her beauty I want to cry. These are good things.
Then a terrible grief and melancholic sadness rolls over me like the mist and cloud on a high exposed Ruahine ridge. I cannot get out of the way. The overwhelming sense of helplessness and loss I experienced that night at Maropea Forks, the hut illuminated only by a lonely candle in the window knowing my beautiful son was out there, lost, possibly hurt or worse just consumed my soul, burning and twisting it into to tiny knots I am still slowly untying. I fully learned and felt what it was like to have a child taken away, then by the Grace of Nature, have that child returned to me. Then I read of the young 17 year old who took his own life on the weekend, sent to his room by his parents after being expelled from his high school ball for being under the influence. Inside me I feel the grief and desolate emptiness they are living, I understand it very well. Just as I understand the same pain of the 13 children in Kawerau whom have killed themselves in the last 18 months. I feel still, the hopelessness of my friend Kevin, whom killed himself at age 15 and in a few days time would have been celebrating his 51st birthday. I will never stop missing him. I wonder why I had the gift of being able to still gaze upon my son alive given to me, am I even deserving of it?
Taylor has not had any life changing epiphany, though he does seem a bit more settled, today even landing a job in an economy where 35% of his age group is unemployed. I still worry for him, but I know out here there is really as little in the mountains once he steps out of my range that I can do for him. And I suspect the lessons out here for him fade as fast as they come into view for me. These are now his choices. He is coming into whom he will be and I am winding down into who I have become, the eternal struggle between sons and fathers. Some of the melancholy comes from that as well.
As for me, I think that sooner than later I need to return to Maropea Forks in particular, either alone or with Tara. I need to be in that area, to sit on that porch I love so much and just be part of it all. Now that I have been there at the very best of times, and the very worst of times, it simply has deepened my connection, and my aroha, for these wild places. The Lessons keep coming.