I still remember exactly where I was when I found out, sitting in my rocking chair with the TV on mute, trying to make sense of something that made absolutely no sense. In a coma. No chance of coming out of it. Dead. Brain dead. Officially dead. Those words scrolled across the bottom of the screen, interspersed with “The King of Pop,” “Series of dates,” “Los Angeles,” and “coroner’s office.” And I sat there as mute as the television set, with tears brimming in my eyes that just wouldn’t come. Not then. It was too fresh, too unreal to be real.
Michael Jackson was dead. And the world would never be the same again. MY world would never be the same.
From the moment I heard “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” on the radio, I had to know who belonged to that voice. That voice that so captivated me, that drew me in, that made me want to sing myself. That angelic voice that grabbed a hold of me and has never let go. And I was addicted from the start. Every single piece of information about him that I could get my hands on, I did. Every single time he released a single, I had it in my possession immediately. Every TV appearance, every tabloid gossip piece, I could never get enough.
I remember clearly the performance of Dangerous he performed at the American Music Awards. In fact, my sister and I taped it and learned all the steps so we could have done it in our sleep. I recall when the video for Black or White came out and all the chaos it caused. And the statues that were unveiled when HIStory was released, they were monumentally epic. From the start I felt this connection with Michael Jackson. He was the brother I never had. He was the confidant who gave to me as much as he could without knowing it.
When Michael Jackson died, I was in disbelief. I sat there until I could sit there no longer, then I turned off the TV, as if by doing it I could stop and rewind time. As if by doing that I could bring breath back to the man who always inspired me as no one else could ever have done, in his way, always. And then I grieved. I laid myself down in my bed, I put on my iPod, a mix of Michael Jackson songs, I closed my eyes, and I just sat there and listened. For days on end. I didn’t get up. I didn’t go out. I grieved the only way I knew how, by immersing myself in the music of the man I always felt so connected to, the maestro.
And I still grieve to this day, but in a different way. I honor his memory by doing my best to help heal the world, by teaching my children that it’s okay to be different, by listening to his music and absorbing his lyrics. By keeping him alive in my home and in my heart. When Michael Jackson died, I thought it was an ending. But it was merely a continuation of a relationship that will last for all time.
But Michael, I sure do miss you.