As I labored over the keys yesterday, trying to find the perfect words to capture my newfound contentment, Michael was already dead. He’d been dead for a while by then, even before I sat down at my computer.
I didn’t know it, not until 10. My friend called me then, announcing the news.
I can’t say I’ll never forget yesterday because I already have: It zipped by after that phone call, and I went to bed still feeling chills all over my body. But today, the day went slow — a quiet, eerie kind of slow. When I had my mind on work, my mind wasn’t on Michael. But when an assignment was completed or when I opened my browser to double-check a word on my online dictionary, his face popped up on my home page, and the sad realization sank in all over again.
I don’t want to read about it anymore. I want to make my peace. If you happened to glance at the New York sky tonight, it was an orange-red color, with cotton dabs of white dotting its surface. It looked exactly like a painting. A quirky painting covering the sky.
What is there to be said? So much, yet every word seems too small to capture reality. His gentle soul is gone. And so many people mourn him. It brings me comfort to feel the collective sadness, and I wish he knew and was here to see that this is what he left behind, this is how well-loved he is. Because he had so many troubles, stresses and debts — the mountain of mindless, living things that brought on his demise — and this simple fact could’ve brought him comfort … even perhaps, reprogrammed his perspective.
But I don’t want to talk about his troubles tonight. Not his nose, his glove or his fabled skin diseases, thank you. There’s too much of that all over the Internet. But what there isn’t enough of is this: Michael Jackson donated in his lifetime a total of $300 million to 39 charities. That’s impressive. All proceeds from some of his best-selling singles went to charity. And let’s remember why he created Neverland in the first place: to offer kids that would never see a playground in their lives a chance to experience the greatness of childhood. I consider this idea fascinating, sprung out of the quirky imagination Micheal was blessed with. (What rich person would actually ever think to make this out-of-this-world, almost-imaginary ground filled with rides and animals for impoverished kids, instead of just making a standard donation?). And yes, I don’t buy the child molestation charges. I’m much more inclined to believe the opinion of his psychiatrist (who said that Michael was then a regressed 10-year-old unable of molesting kids) and of his close friend who also frequented his house during the time (Liz Taylor, who supported MJ on “Larry King Live”).
And aside from ALL that, he was an amazing performer. His boundless energy will be greatly missed. I’d like to thank him for all those amazing moments he brought to my own life, from my earliest memories as a kid, when we’d blast his songs at parties, to the time when I entered my true ’80s phase in college thanks to him (and Kim Wilde), to the many subsequent moments of joy, from practicing the moonwalk in my own living room, to dancing at ’80s bars and perfecting the robot. But most of all, for that refreshing feeling, when I’d leave his music on while working, and after a while, I’d stop and realize that my psyche was completely in tune — and in peace — with the rhythm and flow of his songs.
This is the day that I know I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The day when I mourned my No. 1 ’80s idol. The day when the red sky hung in mourning with us, masking in its lethargic feeling the sinking realization that the world is already a little emptier without him.
May he rest in peace after a lifetime of achievement.