A Magic That Must Be Love
by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh
I started blogging here a year ago this coming Sunday. It was days after Michael Jackson’s death and I was still overcome with unspeakable grief. I cried so hard and so often that my then 2 year old son, spent more time than any toddler should, wiping away tears and trying to “make it better”. I didn’t know where to put the grief. The whole world seemed to buck and sway under the weight of our collective tears and memories. I didn’t feel foolish or out of place mourning this man I never met but whose life impacted mine in ways I’m still learning. The entire world was grieving. As a writer, I felt particular pressure to “write about it”. Folks asked me to “write a poem for Michael” and though I wanted to, I had no poetry for him. I could do nothing with these random assortment of letters that would fully capture what we were all going through and I didn’t want to try. It didn’t seem worth it. I knew that I wished that I could have spoken to Michael. Through the years, as his face and public perception of him changed, I found myself wishing I was his friend. Someone to hold his hand and say, “Michael, you are so beautiful. Please stop.” In my naive view of how hearts work, I thought it might have helped if someone said that to him. If someone loved him and meant it.
I decided to write him a letter and tell him everything I wanted him to know. I wanted him to know the journey he took me on from when I first fell in love with him until the moment he left us. I posted it on my tumblr page and made it a note on Facebook so I’m not sure why I decided to post it here. Why I wanted it to be my first post in this space but it felt oddly appropriate.
I can not believe that this was a year ago. I can not believe that it’s been a year since Twitter was abuzz. The scariest thing in the world some days are the trending topics. That little list on the right hand side of your screen telling you (for better or for worse) what Twitter was talking about. Seeing his name listed there was scary. I watched the progression of “Michael Jackson had a heart attack.” to “Michael Jackson is in the hospital” to “Michael Jackson is in a coma”. We held our breaths with each update. My local news prematurely announced his death and tearfully, I tweeted, “RIP Michael Jackson.” My lovely followers all turned on me. HE”S NOT DEAD. The @ replies came fast and furious each more angry than the last. “HE’S NOT DEAD!” I felt like I had killed him. I prayed that I was wrong. Apologized for spreading false information. Deleted my tweet.
We decided we were not going to believe anything TMZ said. Or the local news. Or the national news. No. We wouldn’t believe it until someone at CNN said it. And even then, It couldn’t be someone like Wolf Blitzer. It had to be someone we could believe. Someone we trusted to tell us. Someone who would understand. I remember wishing it was a hoax. Some elaborate publicity stunt to promote his upcoming concerts. I even allowed myself to be angry at Michael. “How dare he play with our emotions like this. How dare he force us to remember how much we loved him by pretending he was going to leave us. I remember thinking out loud, “OK, Michael. We love you. We love you. Stop playing. We love you.”
When CNN announced what we had all been dreading, it felt like a kick in the stomach. I remember the sharp inhale of breath. It suddenly hurt to breathe. I was surprised when the first tear fell. I wasn’t prepared for the flood that followed. I forgot how much I loved him. I forgot the hours spent perfecting his dance moves in the mirror. I forgot the Michael Jackson trading cards I used to talk to. I forgot how my stomach would swell when I saw him. My first crush. My imaginary friend. My heart. Gone.
I had a show that night. A benefit. I wanted to stay glued to the television. I wanted to stay connected to Twitter. I didn’t want to leave but I had to. In the car, the radio stations were pumping his songs through the airwaves. DJs cried and remembered. I had to pull over twice and weep.
I won’t recount that entire night for you. I’m sure we all have our stories. I just can’t believe that it was a year ago.
Today, for the first time, I watched This Is It. I had been resisting and avoiding this since it came out. I couldn’t watch him so alive knowing that hours later, he would be gone. My son was home sick with fever and he sat in my lap. He wasn’t feeling well so he was unusually and unnaturally quiet. My son and I sat and watched as Michael Jackson created magic in front of us. That’s the only word I can use to describe him. Magic. There was a scene where Michael breaks out into a series of dance steps, gliding effortlessly across the stage. Boogie sat up and said, ‘Wow… That’s cool.” And it was. He was cool. He was magnificent. He was the greatest to ever do it. I almost forgot that this was rehearsal footage and not the actual concert. The man was rehearsing with more energy and more life and electricity than most people would give at a full show. He gave us everything. We took everything he had and still demanded more.
Everyone dies. We all say, that “nobody lives forever.” but in the back of your mind, didn’t you think to yourself, ‘Except Michael Jackson.” Watching him dance and sing and inspire dancers and musicians just HOURS before he passed on, I forgot he was mortal. I forgot he was human. I still don’t fully believe that he is just as I still don’t fully believe that he’s no longer with us. I’m not sure why a year later, it’s still difficult to swallow. I have gone years not thinking about Michael Jackson but not a day has gone by these last 364 days that he didn’t cross my mind. That I didn’t sigh into my chest and blink back tears and think, “He’s gone.”
Watching him this afternoon, my son transfixed turned to me and said, “Michael Jackson is cool.”
Yes… Michael Jackson IS cool. He IS the greatest that ever did it. He IS the King. The Thriller maker. The love of all our lives. Michael Jackson is. Period.
Rest in Protection, Power, Performance, Peace. At long last, the joy comes in knowing that you are finally at peace. Rest.