Great Mysteries Of Life

There are great mysteries in life, as we all know, but none more devastating than losing someone we love who simply vanishes seemingly into thin air. Unfortunately, it’s a fairly common occurrence that has gone on for centuries. Only now, in this day and age, when news travels faster than you can say the words, we are more keenly aware of just how often it happens.

I am of course speaking of the hundreds of people who go missing each year leaving family and friends alike grieving, hoping, and praying that their loved one will come home again. It may have been the high-profile case of Jacob Wetterling that spurred my realization that people can just vanish and even highly skilled law enforcement personnel can’t find them. Jacob, the 11-year-old boy kidnapped from a small Minnesota town while on a summer night’s bike ride with his brother and a friend, wasn’t found for 27 years. Rather than the miracle people around the globe had prayed for, the end result was devastating.

Another high-profile disappearance in the upper Midwest was that of Jodi Huisentruit, a television news anchor for a local station in Mason City, Iowa. She disappeared in the early morning hours of June 27, 1995, without a trace.

It has been years since I have seen photos of Jacob and Jodi, and yet the images from their missing persons posters are seared into my brain. We followed along on the desperate search for these missing people until they faded from our memories, only to resurface on the anniversary of their disappearance each year. That is how it happens when the missing person is a stranger, but for the families, it’s another story.

As I write this, just twelve miles away is an adult daughter who prays that someone has information that will lead her family to their mother, who disappeared in 2018. Wendy Lynn Khan simply vanished and try as hard as everyone did to find her, there is still no clue to her whereabouts or well-being. Posts on social media about Khan’s disappearance still pop up every few months and I faithfully share those posts hoping to bring closure to this heartbroken family until I, too, move on to other things in life.

Certainly, the highest profile mystery happened on March 8, 2014, when Malaysia Airlines MH370 disappeared from radar somewhere over the dark waters of the South China Sea. 227 passengers and 12 crew members never came home. Weeks and months of searching went for naught as no signs of a crash or even debris were discovered. Multiple countries provided search help, and the world waited with bated breath for some news of the souls that appeared lost, but even now, almost a decade later, loved ones left with no answers for what caused that plane to go missing. Full disclosure? Pieces of debris washed up on shores in Malaysia, so they now know the plane did crash, but no one knows why.

How do you cope with the realization that someone you offered a quick “I love you” to before they left for the airport will never return? How do you cope with knowing that the husband that should be walking through the door at the end of the day never opens the door? How do you say goodbye to someone and move on with your life when you can’t let go of the hope that the person you loved so much may still be alive and well, even if that life is no longer being lived with you?

Can you imagine how all-consuming such a loss would be for those left behind? As the wait stretches out to days, weeks, months and even years, their families, torn between wanting their loved ones to come home and simply wanting the nightmare to be over, must be filled with unimaginable guilt. The Wetterling family, who I had the great pleasure to meet after Jacob’s disappearance, wouldn’t move after Jacob disappeared. They wouldn’t move because there was still the chance that Jacob would find his way home and they needed to be there when he did. They left porch lights on as a beacon of hope and strength in the power of love to make their family whole again. I don’t know for sure, but now that Jacob’s remains have been found, I imagine that porch light has gone dark.

For those whose loved ones vanished without a trace, there are no answers. Only hope, prayers, and tears. For those of us who watch from afar, there may be the same hope and prayers before we move on with our lives and forget that people still grieve and people still go missing. When it happens, it’s a not so gentle reminder to hold tight to our loved ones and never miss a chance to tell them how much you love them.

To those who still search for missing loved ones, my heart is with you.

Be well my friends….


Published by walkbal1372

Barbara A. Luker is the author of "Remembering You" (publication 2020) - a story of love, loss and finding the way back. She is a life-long resident of Saint Peter, Minnesota where she hones her writing craft working for the City of Saint Peter. Luker is a Certified Municipal Clerk, a devoted fan of the Minnesota Wild, and a supporter of numerous animal rescue organizations.

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