Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Closure can become unattainable

Wick's World


As humans, we remember certain events so profound they remain etched in our collective memory. September 11 we remembered all of the events surrounding the collapse of the Twin Towers. We forever remember the assassinations of JFK and MLK and the deaths of celebrities that were so tragic, they affected millions. Prince, Princess Di, John Lennon, Elvis Presley and Robin Williams are among the many whose deaths came unexpectedly.

We are conditioned as humans to view death as either normal or abnormal events. Normal deaths are like the ones where Aunt Mathilda passed away in her sleep at the ripe old age of 89.

“She lived a long life. It was for the best. She no longer has to suffer. She is now at peace,” we say.

Our eulogies may be true, that is not for me to say. For the most part, these "normal" deaths come with closure. But what is true is that Death, with a capital "D," carries with it an unavoidable commonality. Everyone and everything ever born is going to die. For humans, Woody Allen said it best, “I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

When the lords of death carry us away to the otherworld, what is left behind are the mourners, grievers and praisers — all requiring some sort of closure to account for the loss of the beloved. Sometimes, this may be unattainable.

The latest chapter in our mass grieving involved one of Minnesota’s most beloved kids, Jacob Wetterling. I call him a kid because that is what Jacob was, and always will remain. He became "our kid" because he was so much like our own children. Last week took us back to that fateful day in October of 1989 when, as parents, we knew the lives of our children had been irrevocably altered. As a youth, I could ride my bike to the store, a friend’s house, the ball field or down to the river. By the time I had children, the world had become a less safe place.

The Wetterling abduction in 1989 and its partial closure last week defined a new set of rules. Our children lost some of the freedoms we once took for granted and Jacob became the poster child for the parental new world order. Everything changed because of a horrible act perpetrated by a sexual predator who carried a distorted and perverted view of life and a lack of its sacredness.

My community of Moose Lake had its own world changing moment the day a sexual predator took away our Katie Poirier. The Poiriers, like the Wetterlings, reached deep down inside and reacted to their tragic situation with grace and poise and a steadfastness that continues to this day. For their families, as in many profound tragedies, closure is never quite complete. However, their public reactions and their ability to go on make them some of the most admirable people I have met in my lifetime.

Collectively, America has had a number of world-changing moments. Who will ever forget the mass explosion of grief that rocked our country when the bullets exited JFK? Thirty years ago we watched on live television as the spaceship Challenger exploded before our very eyes. September 11, America remembered the 15th anniversary of a world changing event. Nineteen misguided men, armed with nothing more than box cutters, transformed two towers, a Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania into a gravesite for thousands. The event was horrible; our reaction to it was as bad. America, and the world, should have united; instead, we divided. Left in its wake are the millions who died and all of us who still have not, and most likely never will, receive closure. When death becomes unexplainable, closure can become unattainable.

From assassinations to terrorist attacks, the ghosts of unexplainable tragedies are embedded in America’s psyche. We are a nation so engulfed in its own grief that we can’t even find our way to a rational ballot box. Un-metabolized grief carries with it a heavy burden. Together as a nation, we are carrying that heavy load. Look around; the evidence is everywhere.


Reader Comments

Wiggy writes:

Wick; That was one powerful article. I am in agreement with you on all, by the way I am in Florida working in Jacksonville.


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