On the first anniversary of Travis's Heaven Day, I called the Fargo Police Department to find out some details from the police report.  One of the things I wanted to know was the name of the person who found Travis.  They gave me the name of Gary Rodacker.  On the second anniversary, I did an Internet search, and found Gary's address and wrote a letter to him - trying to explain the circumstances surrounding Travis's death, and his sudden illness.  I knew it is something I would have appreciated if the roles had been reversed.  I didn't want him wondering his whole life if this young man had a family who loved and missed him, and I wanted to give him a glimpse of what his life had been like for 19 years, prior to his trip to North Dakota/Minnesota. 

 

On April 1st, 2008 We received this e-mail in response to our letter - it brought a sweet balm of healing to our hearts, and was the start of a very special bond that still continues today:

 

 

Hi Mr. and Mrs. Robbins,

 

I have read your web sight and really don't know where to begin. I live two miles from where your son went home to the Lord. I remember that day very well. My best friends more like my parents Gary and Sandra Rodacker showed me the letter you sent them. I was so touched.  I pass by the farm where Travis stopped to rest everyday. Last summer Gary and I rode our horses to the farm and he showed me where your son was. They are sending photos to you of this place and where he rested. It is my wish to someday buy this farm for my horse and family to live. Should I ever be blessed enough to live there. I will plant a beautiful memorial garden for your son that I promise.

 I want you to know he did not pass on in a cold scary environment but rather the quiet plains full of beauty. On a winter night the sky is usually very dark or very bright depending on the weather and the moon and the stars. I see Travis looking up at the stars and the snow is so beautiful when it is untouched and it gives you serenity and peace. It is very quiet at the place your son choose to rest and trees were around him. North Dakota is beautiful in my opinion. I think he looked out at the snow covered fields and saw the beauty and hopefully felt some peace. I am so sorry for your loss. We will go and say a prayer where he laid to rest. We will ride our horses there soon Gary and I. Gary and Sandra Rodacker are very strong in their faith. Gary is 63 years old and so is Sandra. He changed my life on a horseback ride two years ago just a mile or so from where Travis was found  and I came back to the Lord and Jesus. It was the best day of my life so you see he passed amongst very good people. We only wish we knew and could have tried to help him. We were all sad.

 

I want you to know I understand the pain you went thru when he started getting sick as I have a brother with Schizophrenia and Bi-Polar. I think they go hand in hand. My brother got sick around the same age and he has survived for twenty years but I do not know how. As I read the problems you started noticing with your son it was all very familiar to me. As time goes on it gets worse and I don't even want to tell you how much they suffer as the disease progresses with out medication. I understand why your son left just as my brother has done so many times. It is impossible to get them help unless they seek it themselves. I have had my brother committed 4 times it is heart breaking. It sound like Travis was at the beginning stages of the disease and I think he was so special the Lord wanted to take him home to spare him this pain. Again I am so sorry for your loss. You are welcome to come here anytime you like. You can stay with us as long as you like and Gary and I will take you to your sons resting place in North Dakota .

 

We have much in common. My husband is a contractor and we all love to hunt and enjoy the outdoors. We have horses and love them very much. I have a sixteen year old son and he is on a good path with the Lord. He loves to do all the things your sons like. He is the center of my universe and my life. Our faith is very important to us and we try to live as Jesus and God want us to. We read the Bible and take it very seriously and God has blessed us with so much. My son goes to a Christian school so often he teaches me things.

 

I hope that you decide to come to ND. Please know we will welcome you with open arms. You can stay with us as long as you like.

 

God Bless you and your family and please know you are in our prayers.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jill Willits

Prosper ND 58042