For those of you who have moved out of state in the last - what? 27 or fewer years? - and have missed the news, young Jacob Wetterling's body has finally been found. As most of us have always assumed, other than his mother and possibly other family members, he was murdered nearly immediately after his abduction and buried in a farm field. His murderer finally led the authorities to the spot. Identification has been officially verified.
For those who have no idea who he was, he was a ten-year-old boy out bicycling on an October afternoon on a rural Minnesota road with another young boy when a vehicle pulled over, grabbed him, and sped away.
We were never allowed to forget him. His adorable picture and his story reappeared regularly, his mother got very involved with missing children organizations and even ran for political office. She also very publicly never gave up hope. That word was made into a sign across the front of their house, where the family still lives.
There are so many ways to look at this tragedy. Start with the relief that it was never your child - or the horror that it was also yours but without the press coverage. Whether you applaud the mom who refused to lose hope or, while understanding, held absolutely no nope yourself for any kind of good outcome for Jacob, one can still appreciate the courage and determination to spend all those years fighting for all those lost children.
The unthinking catch phrase now that he is found is "closure". There is no closure, there is only loss, and grief, and finally the knowledge of what happened with imagination filing in all the horrible missing details for as long as people are still alive who remember him. Or just heard about him. The pain remains, the hope has ended. Someday, given enough time, perhaps for those who knew Jacob, the love may become the strongest part of the legacy left behind. The rest of us can put our hope in that.