I can’t remember exactly where I was when I first heard Jacob Wetterling had gone missing. I do recall that I reacted with surprise and shock — to think that a child who lived in a small town could not ride his bike in safety sent a shockwave to me and my children, living in a first-ring suburb of Minneapolis. The bright eyes, the great smile –Jacob was a child who was and had everything we would want for our children. Yet in an instant he was gone, and there seemed to be no answers.
I travel frequently past St. Joseph for family gatherings. I had family members in the St. John’s Boys Choir in nearby Collegeville. Each time I went to their events I thought of Jacob — and later also of Josh Guimond, who disappeared off of the St. John’s campus — and prayed for answers, and wondered about what had happened. When the SJ Boy’s Choir put on Stephen Paulus’ The Star Gatherer, I wondered if it was really a story about Jacob.
But I will never forget turning on the TV this Saturday morning to the news that Jacob’s remains had been found. Shock, horror, and anger that perhaps someone comfortable with monstrous behavior had sat on the truth for nearly thirty years, allowing the family to live in a tortuous rollercoaster. The worst had happened. Jacob was not coming home. All the dreams and hopes his family had for him were forever shattered. But then I found there also came a vague sense of relief.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Wetterlings. We will grieve with them, and we will walk the last steps with them, and there will always be a warm spot in our heart for Jacob.