So now that the dust has settled and it's finally all sunk in that Michael Jackson is really gone, I've finally been able to sit down and reflect on what I've been through in the weeks since his passing.
I've been a lifelong fan of Michael Jackson. I remember "Beat It" was my favorite song when I was three years old. The first CD I ever bought (before I even owned a CD player) was his "Dangerous" album. I've got MJ t-shirts, dolls, imported magazines and music, all his albums including those by the Jackson 5 and The Jacksons, stickers, and even a Michael Jackson dress-up kit. I've never actually USED the dress-up kit, but I have it nonetheless — though I dressed as Michael for Halloween when I was sixteen My walls in my bedroom were completely covered with pictures and posters of Michael. This is not an exaggeration — I have the photos to prove it. My 18th birthday cake was a Michael Jackson cake. My senior yearbook quote was a Michael Jackson song. And I can moonwalk like nobody's business.
Yes, I am a true, hardcore Michael Jackson fan. One of the ones that stuck by him through the good and the bad…and the very bad. And I've garnered a lot of mockery for defending him all these years to people who automatically dismissed Michael as being a creepy has-been. In my opinion, he was anything but. I suppose being a musical genius has its price. Unfortunately, Michael was never able to escape the scrutiny of the press… no matter how many songs he wrote about it. (Give a listen to his songs "Leave Me Alone," "Tabloid Junkie," "This Time Around," "Scream," and "Is It Scary," to name a few.)
As odd as this may sound, seeing as how I've never had the chance to meet him, these past few weeks have been incredibly hard for me. There I was, Thursday June 25. Farrah Fawcett had just passed away and Access Hollywood had just done an amazing obit show on her. We all patted ourselves on the back for a job well done as we reflected on how much Farrah would be missed. And before we even had a chance to breathe from our busy morning, something happened. It was reported that Michael Jackson was taken from his home by an ambulance and he was not breathing on his own. In all honesty, I thought nothing of it. Rumors about Michael and his health were common and were always rebutted. So I had no reason to believe that this was really happening. But suddenly, more and more reports were starting to come in and I began to realize that it might actually be something to worry about. I tried to keep calm until we knew exactly what was going on. E-mail after e-mail came pouring in about his status and slowly, I was beginning to grasp the reality of the situation. When my boss came out to announce that we learned he was, in fact, dead, my mind went blank and I could feel the blood draining from my face. I was almost in a state of shock.
All of a sudden, I was being bombarded with text messages and phone calls and e-mails from people who heard about what happened and were checking on me to see if I was okay. I was getting messages from people I haven't spoken to in years! And the truth was, I wasn't okay. I was in denial. For a few days, actually. And I cried. A lot. Even at work, which is difficult for me to admit. I managed to keep my cool for the most part, but once I got home, I sobbed for about an hour.
As a lifelong MJ fan, it had been one of main goals in life to see him in concert. Sadly, that will never happen now. All of us fans were all looking forward to his London concerts. We knew this was it. This was his comeback and he was going to surprise everybody. I couldn't wait. Sadly, it never came to fruition. But I was hoping for at least a chance to attend the memorial so I could say goodbye to the man I truly loved and who had inspired me in so many ways. Despite my best efforts (and the best efforts of my friends who were trying to get me tickets) I didn't get chosen to go. So I had to watch it on TV with everyone else. And, of course, I cried again. The memorial was a touching farewell.
In the aftermath of his death, a lot of people have come forward to say what an amazing man Michael was. A lot of people are looking back on him as the greatest entertainer that ever lived, and many are calling him a musical legend who loved children and was so giving and philanthropic to so many charities. A lot of people are coming forward to say what a great father he was and what a great man he was. My question is: where were these people before? Why are people just NOW seeing how brilliant he was and, given his eccentricities, how normal he actually was? I, along with all his other true fans, knew that from the start. And we've been saying it all along. So why does it take a man to die for people to really see the big picture and see what amazing gifts he brought to this world?
Everywhere I go now, I hear his music. On the radio. Someone blasting it in their car on the freeway. People using his lyrics as their Facebook status. I went to an Angels game the other day and almost every song they played to pump up the crowd was Michael Jackson. Again, my question is: why weren't they playing his music before? Why only now, after his death, are people just now rediscovering the musical genius that is Michael Jackson? When, again, I and his other fans have known all along. He's been in our CD players, on our iPods, on our favorite playlists. The fans never forgot him, even before his death. And for me, as much as I love his music, I couldn't bear to listen to it right after he died. When others were playing his music as a tribute to him, I had to turn a deaf ear because it just hurt too much to hear it.
It's an interesting experience working on an entertainment news show while covering the death of your favorite artist. I'm sure my grieving experience would be a lot different if I wasn't working at Access. It hasn't been easy, but it's been somewhat therapeutic working on the stories about his music, his relationships, and what an amazing entertainer he was.
I could never really explain my obsession with Michael. (Yes, I call it an obsession…you can't have THAT many posters of one person on your wall growing up and not call it an obsession). Most of my friends didn't really understand. There was just something about his voice that was so soothing and pure and real. There is not a single song of his that I skip over whenever I listen to his music. There are so many things I could say about each of his albums and songs, especially his severally underrated later albums "HIStory" and "Dangerous." But there just isn't enough time. He made me want to laugh, cry, sing, dance, and even throw in a little air guitar at times. His music made not just me, but a lot of people happy, which is quite a feat given the state of the world today. His legacy will be unmatched. And I will continue to mourn. Some may think it's strange since I've never met him. But I felt like I knew him. I think, in a way, we ALL felt that way about him at some point. I never thought losing him would be this difficult. I guess I never really thought it would happen. I mean, who could imagine the death of the biggest star in the world? It was a serious blow to me and to all his other fans out there. But I know…I think we all know…that he will never be forgotten.
Related Content from AccessHollywood.com:
PLAY IT NOW: T.G.I.F. - Why Did Michael Jackson Really Sleep In An Oxygen Chamber? (July 17, 2009)
PLAY IT NOW: 'This Is It' Tour Masterminds Discuss Michael Jackson's Death, Part I (July 2, 2009)