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November 7, 2006 | 5 Comments

Dear Mr. Keillor:
My husband and I are relative newcomers to your wonderful radio show, and we enjoy it immensely. Thank you so much.

Last week's news from Lake Wobegon touched my soul for a very personal reason — our 18-year-old daughter, our only child, passed away in February. Hers was a difficult life of illness and disability, but her spirit was strong and shining, and we sense her presence at the most poignant of times.

Your story about the Lake Wobegon parents whose daughter died, and the ultimate appearance of their deceased daughter on Halloween night, left me in tears. Ironically, my husband and I didn't feel up to distributing candy this Halloween and left our house for the evening...and we discovered the next morning that our house had been egged — quite a bit. I don't know if the perpetrators were aware of our loss, but in my head I could hear the words of that little girl's apparition — "leave them in peace".

Again, thank you.

Virginia R., Jessica's Mother forever

Thank you for writing, Virginia. It was an odd story: about a boy's love of watching other people unaware of his presence, then his venture into their home and his interference, and then the ghost of the girl telling him to back off. He had been impersonating a ghost by lurking around their house and peeking at them, and he had to be told not to. It was their tragedy, the loss of a child, that brought out the voyeur in him, of course, which is a common thread in human experience. People need to look at tragedy so they can try to figure out what it would be like should it happen to them. But this curiosity can turn into voyeurism. My mother felt very strongly that one should not stare at people in distress — at accidents on the highway, for example — and when she saw rubberneckers slowing down to get a good look at the destruction, looking for bodies, she became quite incensed. I'm sure that as grieving parents you may have experienced this — a certain fascination on the part of others — which is an invasion of your privacy and should be resisted. The last thing you need is to become an object of curiosity. The dreadful thing about invasion of privacy is how it turns us into performers in an intimate sphere where we count on honesty. I can't believe that the egging had any connection to your loss: it's just too cruel. Of course you'll be Jessica's mother forever and your loss will heal as you live your life. You certainly touch my soul by writing. Thank you.


Dear Virginia,
How your heart must ache. You will find that the enormous empty space inside will shrink, although it will never truly be completely gone. There will be times when your grief overwhelms you again, but gradually you will become aware that the episodes are fewer and farther between. I believe that we will be reunited with our loved ones in heaven; this provides a great deal of comfort to me and hope for the future. May it be the same for you.

Patti, California

Hello Garrison,
Like Virginia, I ``lost`` a child -- odd way to phrase it -- and was fascinated by the Halloween voyeur story. (My son Steven's soul picked January 15, 1998 to exit a body racked with 15 years of medical problems and continue on with its journey.) I knew from the beginning of the story that it had to have a presence-from-the-other-side element to it. The presence of Steven and others I love is so normal and natural to me, not at all limited to Halloween time. Anyway, I hope Virginia has found The Compassionate Friends or Bereaved Parents of the USA, support groups of the most wonderful, loving people my husband and I have ever met. I love your work. I check the schedule all the time to see if you are coming to Michigan. I keep hoping.
Linda May
Clinton Township, Michigan

Dear Mr. Keillor:

I found your response to Virginia's comments about your Halloween Lake Wobegon story valided the strong feelings I have about staring at people in distress. I share your mother's feelings in that regard. I have never understood the bold curiosity people have toward others in trouble and distress. There have been times in my life when I have been the object of those stares and it is painful and embarassing.
My husband and I have been listening to your program for many years. Those two hours are the hightlight of our weekend.

Marilyn G.

Garrison what a kind response you made. And Virginia, I've never lost a loved one and can only imagine your holidays without your daughter. Sue Keehnen

Dear Virginia:

Thank you for sharing your personal grief and thank you Mr. Keillor for your caring reply. Your loss is something that most of us fear and is something with which we don't even think we would be able to cope. I am sorry for the loss of your daughter and I will pray for her and for you. May Her Memory Be Eternal!


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