24 years ago today was the first morning Jacob Wetterling didn't wake up with his family. The night before Jacob, his brother and a friend were riding their bikes when a man wearing a mask came out of a field with a gun. He ordered all three boys to lay face down on the road. Releasing the other two, he kept Jacob who hasn't been seen since. It was the epitamy of stranger abduction.
24 years ago today, I worried for Jacob, wondering if he was okay. I didn't know him, but we were the same age and in the same grade so I felt a connection with him. He looked like someone that would have been in my class or live on my block. He was wearing clothes that so many boys my age wore: sweatpants & a hockey jacket. I remember watching the story on television thinking, "this could have been Justin or Noah or Mike or Joe or...."
24 years ago today the conversation at the 6th grade lunch table was all about Jacob. Much like our parents, we were all pretty freaked out by what happened to him. We made speculations of where he was, why it happened & all of us relayed what we overheard of our parents conversations regarding Jacob and what they said to us that morning when they shoved us off to school. "My mom cried when she kissed me goodbye today," I vividly remember one classmate saying with rolling eyes. But we all knew our parents were scared for us. We were scared for us too.
24 years ago today was the first of many consecutive days that Jacob Wetterling appeared in the newspaper headlines. For months he was there. And just as he started to fade away a sighting would be reported, or there would be rumors of a body showing up and back on the front page he would be. At one point a story was circulating of a kid going to an Illinois payphone, calling 911 & saying he was Jacob. Nothing ever came of it & Jacob was never found.
24 years ago today I cannot imagine what Jerry & Patty Wetterling were going through. And now as a parent, I can only hope that I never will have to know. Stories like this bring you to hug and love up your kids spontaneously through out the day and savor moments watching them just being themselves.
24 years ago today I had no idea that Jacob Wetterling would remain in my unconsciousness for the rest of my life. When I started college I wondered where Jacob would have gone, when I moved back to Minneapolis with my college degree in hand, I wondered what part of world Jacob would have moved to with his degree. Last night I sat at the dinner table with my son & wondered if Jacob would have had kids by this point in his life, what would he be doing at THIS MOMENT. Once you wonder about an element of what his life would have, could have, should have been, you can't help but imagine the rest.
24 years ago today the world changed forever. In Minnesota and beyond, people began to watch their kids a little bit closer, making them check in a little more often & not allowing them to go as far into the world as they would have before.
24 years ago today everyone changed from who they were 24 years ago yesterday.