This week was a tough one in Minnesota. Minnesota has been searching, leaving our porch lights, and praying for Jacob Wetterling’s return home since 1989. 2016 was the year we found out what happened to that sweet innocent boy we all felt as if we knew and loved. On Monday, Jacobs killer was sentenced and his family and friends had a chance to make their victim statements. I like so many others have been following this story and have felt deep sadness but have also been so touched by the outpouring of love and hope from all across our state. It makes me proud to live here. Jacobs story, although tragic, is such an amazing example of unconditional love having the final word. The Wetterling’s did not turn to bitterness, but instead used their personal pain to help ease the pain of others. As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, I give thanks for the power of hope and love. Light can prevail in the midst of great darkness. That is the power of hope. The power of Jacobs hope.
Aaron Larson, Jacobs best friend who was with him the night he was taken. His childhood innocence ended that night, but after years of perspective, hear what he says. This is so powerful. “On that dark night in 1989, evil came out, but the good in life prevails. The Jacob in all of us comes out every day. You can see it everywhere. You can see his happiness everywhere. This is what I see in life. I see him. I find him every day, and I always will. That night I thought I made a choice to run into the darkness. Now, I make that choice freely. If there is darkness and evil out there, I choose to bring light. I run towards the darkness because I know I have the strength in me to overcome the evil out there.”
“We all have this strength. We can all make a difference because we all have Jacob in us, because we are Jacob’s hope.”
There are few people who have experienced the pain of Patty Wetterling. She is a true testament to the power of the human spirit. Here is a portion of what she said. “We hold Jacob in our hearts, and we feel him every time something good happens, a smile, a hug, a helping hand, a rainbow. Jacob’s hope does live in all of us, and you can never take that away, ever.”
“We truly stand together with the good people in this world who believe in Jacob’s hope and who never gave up.”
The good people of the world do stand with the Wetterling’s and our voices have to continue to drown out the darkness.
The night after I found out what happened to Jacob I had severe nightmares. I decided to write Jacob a letter to express my feelings, and I am sharing it below.
I am so sad. My heart hurts today. I feel so raw. These words are not strong enough to describe my feelings. I had nightmares and woke up four times last night. Upon waking, I felt as if I was in the dark, in the grove. I was thinking about you and how confused and scared you must have felt. No. Please don’t let that be real. I don’t want to live in a world where that kind of fear and pain is real. Thank God I believe in Heaven. My daughter told me when she was four years old there is no crying in heaven. I believe her. Hearing about your last day on earth has affected me so deeply, like many Minnesotan’s, like many people.
Today is the day after your kidnapper, molester, and murderer admitted to his crimes and described what he did to you. Your family heard it in person. The pain of that is unimaginable. I know why I am so affected. You remind me of my own son. Your brown hair, your smile, your innocence. I started following Joy Baker’s blog about you two years ago when my son was 11- your age when you were abducted. Your life sounded so much like my son’s- days filled with sports, laughter, sleepovers, and friends. He has two sisters, like you. I know he wishes he has a brother.
I felt connected to your Mom because when you are a Mom, a piece of your heart is in your children. I also felt connected to Joy, who like me, considers herself a writer but had only recently started writing again. Joy was a Mom who felt compelled to start investigating and writing about your story to help solve the mystery of what happened on October 22, 1989 to you. Her blog is called, “[joy] the.curious,” and she is amazing. I think God nudged Joy and she listened. You might already know these things? If anyone deserves to be close to God, it is you.
Writing this seems so selfish. My pain is a like a grain of sand on the all of the beaches in the world in comparison to your family’s pain. I am writing to express my feelings of sadness, and the collective sadness of those of us who did not know you, but feel as if we did. I, like many others, prayed for you to return home. I am so sorry you had to experience that fear and darkness Jacob. I am sorry our society didn’t take child abuse seriously enough in Paynesville to put your killer away for good. I am sorry, I am sorry, I am so sorry. You did not deserve that. You did not do “anything wrong.” I am sorry Jerry, Patty, Trevor, Amy, Carmen, Jered, Aaron, those innocent boys in Paynesville, your loved ones, and friends. I am sorry to all of the other children who have been abducted and are still lost. Our society can do better to protect you. There are ripples of pain in this story.
Jacob, you were lucky before you died. You have brave parents who loved you so very much. You know this too. Love never dies and they used your pain to help thousands of other kids. The pain you suffered was not in vain. We have to believe in a world in which love prevails over evil. Your parents chose love and hope. God bless you. You are a child of God. You are a hero. You and your family are in my prayers and in my heart.
As we prepare to celebrate a day with family and friends in which we remember to be thankful for all the blessings we have, we cannot forget this young bright light, and family who has taught us the greatest lesson of all. Love and hope live forever.