I have started and restarted and written and deleted this post so many times and it's just not going the way I had planned. 2 weeks ago Michael Jackson died and it rocked my world in a way even I couldn't have imagined.
I was at work on Thursday June 25, and had just talked to Shell because she was at the dentist for our boy to get his cavity filled and his last baby tooth pulled. The other line rang and I saw that it was Eric, so I hung up with her to pick up his call. He asked if I had seen that Michael (we always refer to him by just his first name. It's all that's necessary.) had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital. I hadn't, but I quickly started combing the news sites for information. I was checking reputable sites like Associated Press, BBC, LA Times, NY Times, ABC, CNN and was finding that he was indeed taken by ambulance to the hospital after apparently suffering cardiac arrest. Still on the phone with Eric (thank goodness it was a VERY slow day at work), he told me that TMZ was reporting that Michael had died. I refused to believe that this tabloid trash gossip site was right. I mean, NONE of the other sites were saying that, so I held out hope. Dana called me to see if I was okay, as she was hearing that he was gone. I told her it wasn't "official" yet. Shell called me from the dentist to see if I had heard and I yelled at her that "only TMZ is reporting that and they aren't real news so right now all I'm dealing with is a report of cardiac arrest". By this point, I was shaking and panic started to set in. I still had Eric on the phone as we repeatedly refreshed pages and searched for new news. I saw it first and my heart sank. LA Times reported that Michael had died. I read it to Eric and started to cry. There was silence as we started to absorb the shock. We ended our call and it took everything I had to stay at work for the next 45 minutes. Shell called to see if she should come pick me up. I assured her that I could drive myself home. 5:00 finally came and I immediately found a radio station playing Michael songs. Tears fell from my eyes while driving home and as I sat in my car in the garage listening to the radio until Shell & the kids got home. I ate one piece of pizza and laid in bed watching coverage until late that night. Shell held me while I cried.
The next day at work was hard. Tears stayed in my eyes, ready to fall randomly throughout the day. I spent a large part of the day trying to stay composed, and failing for the most part. I was consumed with finding information wherever I could. Even reading TMZ, just because they had constant coverage. I listened to every Michael CD I had repeatedly. It felt a little manic, to tell you the truth. That still continues to some extent. That Saturday, Shell invited Dana & Jeannie for dinner. I think it was to distract me actually. Sunday was Pride, which helped get me out of the funk I was in. But then it started again on Monday. Shell said that she thought I was actually doing better than she would have expected. But I really wasn't "dealing" with it. It just didn't feel real yet. It started to hit me a little on Saturday the 4th when we went to the store for some stuff and found the first Tribute magazines. Holding those in my hands, I could feel my heart beat faster and felt the tears welling up. Shell redirected my attention before it went too far. The magazines went into a bag, and I haven't looked at them since.
The weekend was full of talk of the memorial service and the lottery to win tickets. Eric registered a number of times, but as we heard of the vast numbers of entries and that the odds were getting slimmer and slimmer, we lost hope. The winners were notified Sunday night and when I didn't hear from him, I knew he wouldn't be attending.
I spent Monday morning trying to figure out how I would be able to watch the service online and record it at home. Then Eric called. He was going after all! He had registered an entry for a friend and she was chosen. And she was taking him. I was thrilled for him and really I was thrilled for me too. Since I couldn't go, he needed to so I could hear all about it. I was really happy for both of us, but that was the calm before the storm. For the rest of the day, the reality of what was happening the next day started to hit and moments of lost composure became the norm. My Facebook status was "Monday has turned around for the better. I'm SO happy that deserving people are being rewarded today!" But when Eric commented with "although you know i wish you were here to go with me. i would give up my seat for you.", I lost it. I didn't WANT him to have to give up a seat to Michael's memorial service because I didn't WANT there to be a service. I didn't want Michael to be gone, to never again release records, to never see his beloved children grow up, to never tour again. I was angry and embarrassed and shaken. I was bitter that all these people were proclaiming their love for Michael now and it was too late for him to see.
I have been a "fan" for as long as I can remember. I listened to my mom's Jackson 5 albums growing up. She bought the "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" albums when they came out, so I listened to those too. This picture is me on my 10th birthday in May, 1984. I loved that shirt. The button I'm wearing says "I (heart) Michael Jackson". I changed my Cabbage Patch Kid's name to Michael Joseph Jackson (mylastname). Later that year, the Jackson's Victory tour was coming to Dodger Stadium and my mom went in with some friends to buy tickets (they were sold in lots). One of the people ended up not being able to go, so my mom told me that if they couldn't find someone else, that I could go. Soon after, my mom had a conference with my teacher who told her that I was very behind on my math homework. So my mom told me that I had to make up all the missing work, or I wasn't going to the concert. I worked my butt off, and did it. Unfortunately, I hardly remember the concert at all now. This kills me. And now there will be no "maybe he'll tour the U.S. again someday and I can see him again"...
This is me and my cousin on Christmas 1987. The "Bad" album was one of the first ones I owned. I can still remember studying the liner notes to memorize every word and reading the names of the lucky people who worked on the album. I was a full-fledged fan by now. My mom would even tell me, when I complained about having to do the dishes, "just imagine you are at Michael's house doing his dishes". Believe it or not, that's exactly what I did and it got me through A LOT of chores over the years. I used to keep my room clean, thinking that if he "popped in" (you know as mega-celebrities do) I'd want it to look nice.
I met Eric in the fall of 1988, and found a soulmate in our love of all things Michael Jackson. He was a reader of liner notes too, and we spent many hours talking about and listening to music. In May of 1989, my mom took us to Hollywood to follow the map of star's homes and check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was fun to see where the star's lived and wander around Beverly Hills and see Graumann's Chinese Theater. We found Michael's star and took pictures. We also found the Jackson family home in Encino. THAT was exciting! We were standing in front of where he lives!
When we went to see "Captain Eo" at Disneyland for the first time, I was captivated. I thought it was the coolest thing. I couldn't convince my parents to let us see it over and over, but did get them to buy me a stuffed "Fuzzball" from the movie. It was one of the few stuffed toys I kept over the years of moves and when my daughter was little, she loved playing with it. The tail started to detach from the body, so I put it up high so she couldn't reach it.
After I bought a copy of Captain Eo on eBay, her interest in my
Fuzzball was renewed. So for her 7th birthday, I found a Fuzzball on eBay and bought it. These pictures show her face when she realizes what's in the box and posing with her new friend.
She is a fellow Michael fan as well. For Christmas last year, she asked for her own Michael Jackson CD to play in her room, so she wouldn't have to keep borrowing mine. She watched a lot of the coverage and specials with me after he died and was a big comfort as well. She understood why I was sad.
So back to the memorial service. I decided to take the day off, knowing that there was no way I'd be able to watch coverage at work and not cry. And it wouldn't be an option to avoid the Internet either. So I stayed home. I'm so glad I did. The moment I woke up I turned on the TV and watched his family drive to the cemetery for their private service. I was okay until they carried his casket to the hearse for the drive to Staples Center. That wasn't easy. I talked to Eric briefly before he made his way there and then communicated via text until the service began. And then the tears started. It was the "ugly cry" at its worst. Reality hit me full force and I did not take it well. Every person who spoke or sang caused more tears to fall. I couldn't have stopped them if I'd tried. When his brother Marlon spoke, I felt the realness of it all sink in and then when his beautiful daughter stepped up to the microphone and told the world how she misses her daddy...well that just did me in. I was a wreck...
So now here I am, two weeks after. Every day since the memorial service has been a little better. My wife is relieved to see me finding my way back to normal. I still feel the pain from the loss very deeply, but it doesn't make me cry every time I think of it. But to be honest, I feel anxious thinking about the autopsy results being made public. Like I'm waiting for that shoe to drop before the next round of grieving can begin. Because I know there is more. Maybe there always will be?
I still haven't looked at the magazines I've collected so far. My girl wants to watch the end of the memorial service with me because she missed it, but I can't do it yet. I spoke to a friend the other night who lost her mom a month ago and while she was telling me about the days after, I found myself thinking "that's how I felt about Michael". It's not the same, but it's how I feel. I feel a little embarrassed by my depth of grief, but it is what it is and it's real to me. I never met him, I didn't "know" him, but my heart broke when he died. And little by little, day by day, it's healing. But not very fast...