9/6/05 The Ecstasy and the Agony
If you turn the title around you have the name of a famous book/movie about Michelangelo’s struggle in painting the Sistine Chapel. It is a story about faith and determination.
Our story is also about faith and determination. While we won’t end up with a famous artistic masterpiece to view at the end of the story, what we will see is a masterpiece of love.
Our "Michelangelo" is a determined woman of faith named Louise Holmburg. For more than four years, Louise has devoted her spare time to the search for her missing nephew, Lorne Boulet, Jr. of Chichester, NH.
The drug Ecstasy changed Lorne’s life forever and brought about an unending agony for his family when he disappeared on July 29, 2001. Louise volunteered her time and efforts as his advocate, tirelessly working to find him.
Lorne was not unlike other young men his age. His mother, Evelyn, describes him as a carefree youth: “Lorne graduated from Pembroke Academy in 1998. He was 18 when he graduated high school, a typical teen age boy, snow boarding, playing basketball, swimming, boxing, and just hanging out with friends. Lorne was not judgmental and liked helping others. He seemed to have lots of friends and was very popular. He of course, loved nice clothes and fine jewelry.”
That’s when things began to change. Evelyn continues the story: “After Lorne graduated from High School, he was invited to a New Year's Eve Party on December 31, 1998. This is when Lorne took his first hit of Ecstasy. Apparently Lorne used this drug for four months on a regular basis. Then, on April 29, 1999, we received a phone call from him saying he needed his dad. He was at the Home Depot on Loudon Road in Concord, about 12 miles from his home in Chichester. About 30 minutes later, I received a call from my husband saying Lorne was not himself and I needed to come right away. When I got to Loudon Road, Lorne was walking down the highway with one hand holding his eye open saying that he was special, had powers, and that I was evil and had to go. We did not know what to do. The police arrived and he was arrested, charged with destruction of property, possession, and resisting arrest. This was the first time Lorne had ever been arrested.
I feel it is important for people to know the dangers of Ecstasy and other drugs available to our children. We had no idea of what Lorne had been taking nor had we ever heard of Ecstasy. Now, unfortunately, we can say we know what this is and it can destroy a life.”
Eventually, Lorne was diagnosed as being Schizophrenic. His behaviors varied. He often was very child-like, and became very close to his Aunt, Louise, and her three sons. Lorne loved his young cousins and took them to Amusement Parks, Trick-or-Treating, swimming, snow boarding, and visited with them just to be together. Lorne taught the boys about respect, peer pressure, and the dangers of drug use. Louise, Lorne, and her sons grew even closer.
Lorne had a habit of taking a walk every evening. Evelyn Boulet recalls that last walk: “On July 29, 2001, around 6:00 PM, Lorne went for a walk with nothing other than his white fleece shirt, black fleece pants, and sandals. This was the last time we saw Lorne.”
Louise didn’t find out right away: “I did not find out that Lorne was missing for four days. It was summer vacation and my children were all home. Lorne's mom, my sister, called and said that they could not find Lorne. I stood at my table not understanding until she explained that he went for a walk and never returned. I said I'd be right there and drove the hour and fifteen minute drive to find that saying, "It will never happen to us", just did. I truly believed we would find him. How big is this world anyway?”
After Lorne became missing, Louise began to educate herself on the things she could do to help find him. One of the most bitter pills to swallow other than the fact he is missing, is the lack of media attention for missing adult males. “A needle in a hay stack has a better chance of being found then a missing man with little media coverage,” Louise explains. “Isn't it obvious why the media takes to certain cases? Do NOT misunderstand me, ALL cases deserve attention, however, young ~ beautiful women get great exposure.
What about the young man who suffers from a mental illness? I feel, that Lorne, being a once popular High School graduate, going from loving "nice clothes and fine jewelry" to being a "child at heart" Schizophrenic, could spotlight the missing mentally ill. This could help others who are going through the same thing and could possibly prevent this from happening to someone else's loved one suffering from a mental illness.
I am happy for those families that gain national media attention, however, the number of missing persons is great and those who gain coverage is small. There needs to be more coverage for ALL, even at a small amount, than for a small amount to get ALL the attention. How can you place value on what case takes priority? Are not all missing persons someone's child?”
Louise is not exaggerating in about the lack of media attention. Of the last 7 missing adult cases that Project Jason sent press releases out on, only one resulted in a story. The majority of these cases involved mental illness. Are we as a society still trying to sweep mental illness under the carpet? If anything, these cases need more help because of the mental illness.
Louise has valid fears for Lorne’s safety. While Lorne is a good sized young man, his illness makes him vulnerable. ‘I think Lorne’s mind, because of being ill, got the best of him, in the sense of him not quite knowing reality or the lack there of. I do not believe he had any INTENTIONS of not returning home. He may not realize how long he has been gone, nor the pain we feel. My greatest fear is his susceptibility to life's dangers; weather or even unkind individuals. I truly wish I understood the details of Schizophrenia before Lorne's walk that fateful evening. I believe that by being more aware of his illness and how it affects the mind, maybe all of us involved in Lorne's life could have realized the possibilities.”
Louise may not have realized or understood what happened to her nephew and why, but she didn’t let this deter her in her efforts to find him and create awareness for his story.
Since Lorne’s disappearance, Louise has accomplished the following:
* Placed him on websites all over the Internet.
* Built and maintained a website for him
* Detailed her van, along with both of his parents and one uncle's vehicle with Lorne's photo and information.
* Posted fliers and handed out information
* Created photo buttons to wear
* Held vigils
* Attended missing person's events, conferences, vigils, etc.
* Mailed and emailed fliers/ mailers
* Added his photo and information, on labels for outgoing mail
* Wears t-shirts with his information and photo
Louise’s determination and creativity don’t end with that list. She also created the unique “Walking Them Home” program, which combines physical exercise with awareness for the missing. Louise is also in the process of contacting all law enforcement agencies nationwide with Lorne’s information. It doesn’t matter to her that this project is a huge task. She only wants to find her nephew.
There is something she asks of us: “Please look at Lorne's face and know that there is a life behind his photo. All it takes is for one person to recognize Lorne and we could be reunited as a family once again. He is loved and missed so very much. Also, PLEASE, if you think that you have seen Lorne, but are uncertain to whether or not it is actually him, call the authorities. It does NOT hurt anyone to be wrong. It can, however, reunite a family should you be right. Close your eyes and think, while feeling with your heart, "What if this was MY child?" Would you want answers? If you answer *yes*, know that all of us living this feel the same. Yes, We Want Answers.”
It would be wonderful if there could be a miracle for this family. They deserve to be relieved of their agony and to experience an ecstasy that comes from within. The visual of their reunion would be much more beautiful than a painted ceiling.
A video made of Lorne: