Words are utterly inadequate to express the shock, sadness and terror when someone’s child disappears or is found murdered.
That is what happened to Thomas Gregory Bearson of Sartell when he was first reported as missing Sept. 21 in Fargo, and then found deceased two days later in Moorhead, the victim of “homicidal violence,” as the police described it. Only 18 years old, Bearson had just begun nursing studies at North Dakota State University when his life was so tragically, viciously snatched from him.
It’s often been said children should never die before their parents do. It’s every parents’ worst nightmare that something bad will befall one or more of their children. That imagined nightmare, shockingly, becomes all too real for too many parents, including the parents of Tom Bearson. The sudden death is bad enough, but the nightmare aspect is even worse when the death was caused by murder.
Bearson’s terrible, untimely end has affected everyone who has heard about it, especially his family, friends, school chums, teachers, coaches and the members of St. Francis Xavier Church in Sartell, of which Bearson was a member. He also attended St. Francis Xavier Elementary School where his mother, Deb, is a teacher. It was very moving to see and hear the memorial service at the church as so many people gathered to honor Tom and to mourn his unthinkable loss. What is doubly sad is the service had been intended as a prayer-and-hope ceremony for finding Tom after his unexplained disappearance, but as it turned out, tragically, his death was announced on the day of the memorial service.
It tugs at the mind to think how Bearson would have been a successful young man leading a long, happy and productive life. By all accounts, he was very intelligent, talented, kind, charming and disciplined – skills which so many had a chance to observe on the basketball court with “Tommy,” one of the outstanding Sartell Sabre players.
We hope the perpetrator(s) of this senseless, cruel, violent crime are apprehended soon. Bearson’s family and friends will need to have that kind of closure. Such an unknown can gnaw at the hearts of loved ones, the way it has for the parents of Jacob Wetterling, 11 years old when he was kidnapped in St. Joseph 25 years ago. That terrible unknown also eats away at the parents of Joshua Guimond, a St. John’s University student from Maple Lake who “disappeared” 12 years ago while walking in the dark on the SJU campus.
Those are just three local tragedies. Imagine all the grieving parents, siblings, spouses and friends whose loved ones have been killed or who just “disappeared” without a trace. That kind of grieving never ends. As Patty Wetterling, mother of Jacob, once said, “The hurt never goes away. We learned to go on, but that hurt is always there inside.”
Our hearts go out to the loved ones of Tom Bearson, especially to his parents and his sister. We hope they can find some kind of solace eventually during the difficult, grieving days ahead.