Saying Good-Bye To Our Beautiful Child of Summer: Six Years Ago Today

 

MICHAEL JACKSON AUG 29, 1958-June 25, 2009
MICHAEL JACKSON
AUG 29, 1958-June 25, 2009

Stevie Wonder could have chosen a lot of songs to sing at Michael Jackson’s memorial service, but I think it is no coincidence that he chose his lovely romantic ballad “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer.” Stevie was onto something that has haunted me for the last few days, as June 25th has drawn nearer and nearer.

Michael was truly our child of summer. His life began on a hot summer night in August in Gary, Indiana. It ended on a blistering June morning in Los Angeles, fifty years later.

This fact alone isn’t especially unique. Lots of people die in the same season as they were born, and in most cases we can chalk it up to coincidence.  But statistically, it has been said that more births and deaths occur in summer than any other season. Obviously, there are many scientific factors that can explain this. But as we know, there are some things that, every so often, simply defy scientific explanation.

935896_10201065756983235_1342392230_nI like to think that God singled Michael out to be a Child of Summer. In the Northern hemisphere, summer is the season when the sun’s rays are closest to the earth. It is the season when the gentle warmth of May and June gives way to the fierce heat of July and August. It is the season of light, when the days are longest and the black nights are shortest. It is the time of year when life is in full flower. Doesn’t every quality we associate with summer sound just like Michael and the way he lived his life? He blazed like the sun, wrapped the world in the warmth of his love, set stages on fire with his smoldering performances, and gave humanity hope that we could conquer the darkness. From his first cry in the summer of 1958 to his last breath in the summer of 2009, his was a life dedicated to the light.

His Was A Life Dedicated To The Light
His Was A Life Dedicated To The Light

Perhaps this is what made his death so especially poignant, coming as it did a mere four days after the summer solstice. I still remember that day so vividly, mostly because it was such an ordinary summer day until I heard. I had been at work all day, and back then they didn’t yet have computers in every office. With no way to really know, then, what was transpiring  on the other side of the continent, I passed the afternoon making notes on the story that my evening class at 5:30 would be studying, Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” That is a detail that still sticks in my mind. Perhaps it’s only coincidence that I had scheduled my class to read this story on June 25th, 2009, a story of a teenage girl who is enjoying summer fun when death comes, suddenly and unbidden,  in the seductive guise of Arnold Friend (her death in the story is certainly metaphoric even if the physical is only implied). None of my students mentioned the death of Michael Jackson, though it is quite possible they still didn’t know. Word was just getting  to many of us in this part of the country at about that time (I would learn later that many who had followed the story on TMZ and CNN  were still thinking that he might be alive because reports had been so conflicting all afternoon!). Whatever the case may be, my students weren’t very talkative and no one seemed much interested in the story. The vibe felt strange. I dismissed class early and headed home. “Thriller” was playing on the radio. It was one of those beautiful, long summer evenings, when the sun is still as bright as mid afternoon even at 7pm. I passed fields where kids were playing soccer and baseball.

Only when the song ended did I learn the reason why the radio station-a country station, no less!-was playing “Thriller.” Michael Jackson was dead at the age of fifty. My heart sank to the bottom of my feet. I know I must have driven the rest of the way home on auto pilot because I was just in a complete and utter state of shock. It seemed surreal to think of Michael Jackson being dead, while all around me was a world alive with the sights, smells, and sounds of summer.

It’s been six years, and though the pain is duller now, it can still sharpen at a moment’s notice, in ways I often least expect. Usually it’s when I hear a song unexpectedly, like going to an aerobics class at the gym and suddenly hearing “Bad” or hearing “Man in the Mirror” in the grocery store. His music still affects people. I can’t quite explain it; only that I know it when I see it and am around it. People automatically become a little more mellow, relaxed and friendly. Happier. It’s like reconnecting to that feeling of when your parent sang you a favorite lullabye. It comforts you and wraps you in warmth. Everyone’s mood is a little brighter when a Michael Jackson song plays. There’s just something about it. You can’t hold darkness, anger, hatred, or coldness in your heart when you hear it. His voice melts all of it away. Even his darkest and angriest songs have the power to heal and bring unity, as we have witnessed so often in these recent, troubled times. mirror2

People who are born in summer often, also, have a strong affinity with the season. My mother, a summer baby who was born in July of 1945, always hated winter, a season that antagonized her depression. She loves summer-picnics in the park, being able to sit outdoors, watching the grandkids play. Give my mother a winter day of snow and ice and she’s in the equivalent of hell. She’s always told us that she hopes she dies in the summertime, so we can put her away in her happiest time of year.

swimmingI don’t know if all Summer Children feel this, but certainly Michael did. As a little boy, when asked what he liked most about coming to California and leaving Gary, Indiana, he was always quick to say that he was glad to be out of the cold. He loved being in the sun, and California must have seemed like Heaven after all of those brutally cold winters in Indiana. He loved swimming. He loved playing outdoors. He loved sunflowers and roses. He didn’t like snow and ice-the one thing about “back home” that he definitely didn’t miss. swiming2

In one of the cruelest twists of fate imaginable, this Child of Summer lost his ability to enjoy the sun. With the onset of vitiligo, he spent the last two decades of his life avoiding the sun and only going out in heavy, long-sleeved shirts, hats, and with an umbrella ever present. It wasn’t just that the sun had become a burden-it became something that could literally kill him.

But that handicap still didn’t stop him from living his life based on the principles of being a Child of Summer-or, as some say, a Child of the Sun. His life’s mission continued to be the message of love and hope and of overcoming darkness. He continued on this path despite all the media chatter that would have us believe he had sunk into an abyss of darkness. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Even when he had his dark moments, as we all do, he always worked his way back to us-and we to him. He was our wonderful, quirky, magical, mythical, whimsical, beautiful Child of Summer and we loved him. Yes, we loved him. Not just the fans. The world as a collective consciousness loved him. Look how we all reacted on June 25th, 2009! Even those of us who weren’t fans; those of us who THOUGHT we couldn’t care less; even some who had made jokes about him. Some of us cried and didn’t even know why. If I’ve heard that statement once, I’ve heard it a million times. “I don’t know what it was, but, man, when Michael Jackson died, I cried.” A billion people around the world watched the memorial. A billion. Let that number sink in. Sure, at least some of it may have been the usual spectators-at-the-circus mentality. But we can’t deny, the world genuinely grieved the death of Michael Jackson.

The light hadn’t gone out of the world. But somehow we knew, innately, that it would never again burn as brightly or intensely. And for my generation, at least, it was a cruel reminder that summer can’t last forever. Autumn waits, patiently, to claim us all.

The song “Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer” ends with this verse:

You said then you’d be the life in autumn
Said you’d be the one to see the way
I never dreamed you’d leave in summer
But now I find my love has gone away

Why didn’t you stay?

While the song itself is just a simple love song about a relationship gone bad, Stevie Wonder gave it a whole new context as a song of tribute to Michael. Somehow, we had thought he would always be there, leading us through the chill of autumn and darkness of winter. But he was called home at the height of summer. A true Child of Summer must go where the light beckons. He couldn’t stay.

He Couldn't Stay
He Couldn’t Stay

But is he really gone? Certainly the light he gave lives on. So does the joy and the pain (in the best possible way). We have his voice forever on record and his image forever on film. We can still hear him speak; we can still see him smile and hear that crazy, wild laugh. But it goes deeper than that. It’s the fact that millions of people all over the world can say they are better people by having been touched by him in some way; in living by his example.

The Last Night
The Last Night

He is one Summer Child whose light will never dim, and whose fire will never go out. Like Icarus, he may have flown too close to the sun at times, but in the end (if you’ll pardon my Greek analogies) he was more like Prometheus, bearing us the gift of his fire, knowing we would keep it forever lit; forever safe.

Six years and counting, it still burns bright.

33 thoughts on “Saying Good-Bye To Our Beautiful Child of Summer: Six Years Ago Today”

  1. Thanks for this lovely remembrance. I can hardly grasp the reality that he’s been gone from our planet for six years. Yet, his spirit will always be with us. His effect on us will remain, and grow and touch more and more people as the youngest among us discover him for the first time. His physical presence defied adequate description in words alone. You had to “experience” him, feel his music, let it pour into the very fiber of your soul. I’ll always remember him. I’ll always be grateful that I lived during his lifetime and knew such a phenomenal talent and extraordinary human being. Michael Jackson….The One and Only.

    1. I know what you mean. I feel very fortunate that I was able to witness every step of his journey, from the childhood fame all the way through his adult trials and tribulations. It was a very unique era and unique artist who will never come again.

  2. Thank you Raven for the most beautifull and heartfelt tribute, one to read over and over again.
    The memories of that summerday , as beautiful as today , and how it ended are ingrained in all of us . And we will feel all kinds of emotions today, thinking back at the roller coaster of events after wards and the shock that seemed to last forever.
    With time I have learned to accept his physical absence ,like my parents’ who both passed away shortly before Michael. Anyone who lost a loved one will know the feeling that without their physical being the stronger you feel their souls as a part of ourselves, because of what they gave us and what they mean to us.
    This verse from the Bhagavad gita about the Immortality of the soul was and is of great comfort to me and I hope to others.

    “For the soul there is neither birth nor death, nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”

    Thanks again for all your efforts, it is really all for Love. I firmly believe it is soothing and gives peace to Michaels soul.

  3. Thank from the bottom of my heart. Your words were beautiful, and you spoke so eloquently what so many of us feel and are feeling. Yes, Stevie Wonder chose that song so perfectly to represent Michael. I didn’t really know him until he left that summer day. I now realize he is the light in autumn. My autumn years.

    1. I guess it sort of became that way for me, too. I realized I had a lot of catching up to do with discovering him after he died, even though I witnessed the entire span of his career. But before, it had always been more a case of listening to the music and not really knowing much about the person behind it. I’ve never seen a case where so many became fans AFTER a celebrity’s death. And the fact that so many who researched and became fans then are still loyal today, six years later, proves that this wasn’t some fluke phenomenon. For a lot of us, it was a worldwide wake-up call, and maybe as they say, everything really does happen for a reason.

  4. Thank you for this lovely post, and for this blog in general! I, too, am someone who became a fan after Michael passed away – I was only eleven and had no idea that he even existed, literally (which was due to the fact that my family doesn’t get newspapers or television, so if I ever heard his name, I had no one to connect it to). I only found out about him in 2011 – only four years ago? What a four years it has been! I turned my whole family into fans – though, I suppose, we were all sort of fans long before; I distinctly remember boogieing to “Unbreakable” in the bathtub when I was about five or six. My mother and father were another two who said, “I don’t know what it was, but when Michael died, I cried.” My mother even said that she’d never cried at the death of a celebrity before…but she cried for Michael.

    Michael as the Child of Summer – I never thought about it that way before, really, but now that I am it seems to fit so perfectly. And, when you made that simile about Prometheus, my heart sort of cracked…Prometheus, too, was tortured for his love for humanity, and he knew he would be, for bringing them fire, yet he never once hesitated. Just like Michael.

    On a slightly sillier note, my mother, too, is a child of summer (her birthday is actually June 24th) and she *hates* the cold with a vengeance. Sounds like she and Michael have something in common 😉 My father’s birthday is in a few days, but he’s not as deadset against the cold. As a matter of fact, his continual complaint is that it’s “too hot”! LOL I myself am a winter baby and find the summer people’s love of heat quite incomprehensible…but anyway…

    Thank you once again for sharing this post. Much love!

    1. Yeah, I don’t know how much weight that theory actually holds. I was born in winter and, nevertheless, hate the cold with a vengeance. My mother, however, probably has more in common with Michael than I do. My mother loves shopping, thrift stores, all that stuff. I hate shopping; never had the patience for it, and will only go in a thrift store if I have something specific in mind I’m looking for. I’m not a “bargain hunter,” lol. My mother brags that she and Michael would have gotten along like two peas in a pod. Lol. It’s probably true. Her personality and tastes are a lot like Liz Taylor (even resembled her when she was younger) so I could see it.

      Wow, so you are a REALLY young fan. I know there were a lot of younger fans who came to him in 2009 as a direct result of the media coverage surrounding his death. Before, they either hadn’t known about him or only thought of him as the guy who did “Thriller” and had become a media punchline. Because there were so many retrospectives and tributes at that time, it allowed young people to experience his magic as if for the first time. But you say you only came to him in 2011 so I’m curious about what actually led you to discover him. Feel free to share if you want. I just think it’s so great that young people are still discovering him every day.

      1. Well, cool for her! Haha, I am not much of a shopper myself. Unless I’m being taken to a book/music store…and I have a lot of money to spend.

        Reasonably young, yeah – although my younger brother and little sister, both fans, are fourteen and seven respectively, so I’m kinda old. LOL As for discovering him: Well, I’d seen when I went to the store the news that he’d died, but because I didn’t know who he was, I didn’t feel any sadder than I did about any other death. But his name somehow always stuck with me; I always remembered it, even though I had no one to attach it to. Anyway, one night in February 2011, my dad was showing my older half-brother “You Rock My World” on YouTube; no idea why he felt like it just then, but I’m so glad he did, because I heard it start playing and I came over to watch. It was the short film, so I got to see Michael singing *and* dancing for the first time in my life. It blew me away. Then we watched “Beat It”, then “Remember The Time”, then the Motown 25 performance, and my younger brother and I were completely hooked. We just had to keep watching more short films and listening to more songs – half our conversations were about MJ. For a while we were always calling him “Michael Jackson”, but then one day I just said “Michael – I mean, Michael Jackson,” and my little brother says, “Yeah, I know who you mean,” and he’s been Michael to us ever since. 🙂

        I can mark the day I became a fan, actually – March the 5th, 2011. I heard “Man in the Mirror” for the first time, playing on Pandora, and I thought, “What is this, who is this, this is great!” I went to look, and it was, of course, Michael, and I just remember the thought, “This man is great,” entering my mind. I set off down the fan road that day and never looked back!

        So, there’s my story. And I, too, always love it when I hear young people saying they love Michael. Just proves he’ll never be forgotten.

  5. I find it kinda disturbing that you write he couldn’t stay. Actually, he definitely could and should have stayed since it was another human being who caused his death. Michael wasn’t suicidal to the point of not being able to bear life, he wasn’t ill with a deadly disease nor was it a fatal accident that nobody could prevent.

    He wasn’t “called home” or whatever nonsense, he was murdered. So, can we please stop acting like Michael’s life ended as a part of a plan and he was never supposed to live a day longer than he did.

    1. I’m more than well aware of the circumstances under which Michael died. In fact, my next post is going to be a review of a book about his homicide. But I also do believe that people are indeed “called home” regardless of the circumstances of their death. God knows exactly how we’re going to exit this world long before we are put into it (that isn’t to justify the perpetrators, however, who still practice their own free will in carrying out their actions).According to many witnesses, Michael was talking to God days before his death. This often happens to people whose time is approaching. A couple of years ago, my friend’s grandson was killed on a railroad track walking home from school. Even when the train was bearing down on him, blaring its whistle, witnesses said he didn’t move to get off the tracks, but just before it struck him, he appeared to be in conversation with someone and looked up towards the sky. At his funeral, the reverend brought that up and said, “It was obvious the child was having a conversation with God.” Well, maybe he was and then again, maybe the whole thing was an accident that could have been prevented (he made a conscious choice to walk on a railroad track, knowing the dangers; he also could have moved in time, so why didn’t he?) These are all questions for which there are no answers. My grandmother used to say that every hair on a person’s head is numbered before they are born, and I do think there is something to this. Some of us ARE destined for tragic ends, which can include acts of accident or homicide. But again, if someone makes egregious or conscious decisions that lead to that end, such as the actions of Murray, that doesn’t excuse their part in it. And this certainly isn’t about excusing them; it just felt, to me, like a topic more appropriate for another post on another day.

      In Michael’s case it was a homicide and clearly brought about by another’s actions. And, yes, I was thinking of all these things as I wrote the post, and making some tough decisions about what to put in and what to leave out. Ultimately, as with every post, I have to make decisions about what is appropriate for that particular post. Most of my readers are already well familiar with the details of how Michael died. I felt that bringing up Murray and all that stuff would ultimately just sidetrack the post and take it in a different direction from what was intended (to reflect on his as a life that began and ended with the season). With every post, I have to determine where I want to go with it and I didn’t want to turn this into a post about Dr. Murray and the others involved just yet, knowing I’ll be delving into all of that in future posts as well as having written extensively about it in past posts.

  6. I do not believe in God; nevertheless, thank you for this heartfelt piece, Raven. I think those luminous people who we somehow designate as special are usually not with us for very long.

    1. I was agnostic for a long time. I was raised in a family that believed in God but not especially strict (we didn’t go to church, etc). As a youth who read widely, I was exposed to many different religions and ways of believing so, for many years, I questioned everything I’d been taught. Re-connecting to my Native American roots brought me back very much to spiritual awareness and belief in a higher power, though even on that path I have drifted a lot and returned throughout the years. But it has given me a solid foundation. I would say I am more spiritual overall, rather than strictly Christian. This sort of hybrid religion (part Christianity; part traditional Cherokee) is actually quite common among our people and not as odd as some might think.

      As for the luminous people, I think there is a very simple explanation for their brevity. It takes a lot of energy to burn that brightly.

  7. Thank you Raven for this posting. As I read it, I could hear within my thoughts, Stevie’s tribute to Michael as clear as a bell.
    Just a little note: After July 7th 2009 Stevie performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival, which my niece attended. She said that when Stevie went to play, he was having a lot of trouble. He made an announcement saying that he had lost a very good friend Michael Jackson. He then broke down into tears and couldn’t continue. Eventually he was able to do his set, but the emotions were very obvious. I can’t say what songs he chose to play, but one them could have been “Never Dreamed You Leave In Summer”. As for myself, I like you, had Michael in the background of my life until June 25th 2009. My whole life change because of Michael. For a long time I was confused, wondering why I was so affected by his passing. I begged my doctor to give me some explanation. The best he could do was to drawn from his own personal experience of him losing a best friend and the death of Princess Diana. You see, I lost my mother when I was seventeen and I don’t think I really had time to grieve. So when Michael left all my emotional grieve come pouring out. I wept every day for four and a half years. The daily tears stopped, after the Katherine Jackson vs AEG Live trial and the release of DocNot Murray. I was stunned by the injustice. Shocked… But that doesn’t mean that I never cry for Michael, because I do. It just means I had to take control of my life, to survive. I love Michael like nobody else and that love grows each and very day. I understand now why my heart and soul were so affected. We are soulmates. Anyone connected to Michael is a soulmate. His death was a wake-up call and there’s no doubt. It was definitely needed, at the time. Someone knew (Higher Powers knew), that removing Michael would bring about Global Awareness like never before. Personally I don’t know where I would be, if it wasn’t for Michael. The odd thing is just two weeks before this tragedy, I was having a conversation with those “Higher Powers” saying I need some kind of change… Well, I got my answer. Sadly to say it work. Anyway that’s my story. Thanks again <3 <3 <3
    Justice For Michael <3
    Peace and love Christiane (mj lover)

    1. Hi christiane, Here is a show where Stevie gets very emotional while singing TWYMMF. but I’m not sure if this is Montreal.

      1. Sina;
        Sorry to say but the video is blocked due to copyright grounds…
        Thank you anyway for trying to share <3 <3 <3
        Justice For Michael <3
        Peace and love Christiane (mj lover)

    2. This may have been partly what was going on with me, as well. I hadn’t ever really dealt with the grief of my grandmother. I was in grad school when she died and, after the funeral, I immediately plunged into working on my creative thesis. It was a way of blocking things out so they wouldn’t hurt as much. I knew if I really gave in to my feelings-if I really dwelled on the fact that she was dead-I wouldn’t be able to function and would forfeit everything I had worked for to that point. So I repressed a lot of those emotions. Of course, in her case, I had already had time to reconcile myself to her death long before it happened. She had been suffering from dementia for at least a couple of years before that, so in some ways, I had already started to let go. For a long time, it had really felt as though she was just there in body only, and I saw that body suffer so much that there was actually a sense of relief when she passed (relief for her, that is, in knowing she was out of her pain). But still, I knew I had never really processed those feelings, and it’s very possible that when Michael died it brought a lot of those feelings to the surface. His death wasn’t like most celebrity deaths. He really did feel like family to our generation. That could possibly explain why a lot of us reacted the way that we did. Perhaps Michael, in death, became a kind of spiritual divining rod for all those feelings of grief that so many had never allowed themselves to process before.

      Stevie was still processing his own grief evidently, which was why those first few shows after Michael’s passing were so hard for him to perform. It is probably healthier for him in the long run that he wasn’t suppressing it and taking the “on with the show” mentality.

      For some very strange reason, the only celebrity/musician death prior to Michael’s that had really affected me in a personal way was Stevie Ray Vaughan back in 1990. Even now, I still occasionally have dreams about him. I don’t think we can ever really explain why we’re impacted by certain things or individuals, or why some souls just seem to connect with us. Also interesting that both Michael and Stevie Ray shared a very similar, close friendship with Stevie Wonder (who sang at Stevie Ray’s funeral as well). I hadn’t really thought much about that connection until recently. It just goes to remind us what a strong soul he has been, and such an anchor for many people across generations and races. I’m sure it can’t be easy to realize you’ve outlived so many of your friends, some of whom were taken long before their time.

  8. thank you for this nice statememt,for sure Michael never lost this child within,either his light were shining bright,so everyone could feel his warm aura.My both daughters,one born in april,my sec in september died the one born in april in june,my sec in july,so both were passing in summer.
    To me is clear,that death don,t exist,coz the soul,the spirit lives forever,Michael and all of those,whom passing,laying down their bodies,to let their souls soar.They are free,as Michael said:From bliss I came,into bliss I substain,into bliss,I return.So he is dancing the eternal moonwalk with my beloved daughters……Love<3

    1. Eva Maria;
      So sorry to hear of your loss of both children. It must be hard. May peace be with you and God bless you…

  9. “Michael, they won’t go where you’ve gone.”

    Thank you, Raven, for posting this beautiful tribute built around Stevie Wonder’s incredible tour de force performance. Somehow I did not appreciate its power at the time I watched the Memorial, but I sure feel it now! Thanks so much. “The kingdom I will see, but they won’t go where I go.” “Michael, we can’t help but love you forever”–the power and depth of the emotion in Stevie’s voice is awesome . I agree Michael was like the blazing sun–shining bright and sending us warmth and light. Coincidently, there was a huge solar flare recently that was captured on the NASA website. I will try and find a link.

  10. Here’s the link–solar flare on June 17-18, 2015. Watch in full screen and mute the music background, which is not the best, for the full appreciation of this amazing solar event.

  11. I love Michael Jackson. Thanks for honoring a great man with this post. Sometimes I feel silly feeling empty knowing he’s gone, but I can’t help it. Such a loss.

  12. Beautiful graphics set to a demo version of “People of the World.” A tribute to honor Michael on the sixth anniversary of his death.

  13. I just recently came across your blog and I wanted to thank you for your work overall and for this heartfelt post. I, too, can hardly believe it’s been 6 years since he passed, and I also remember that day crystal clear. I hadn’t been paying attention to the news but I noticed his music was everywhere. This restaurant I used to go to often was playing Jackson 5 hits. Cars passed by blasting “Billie Jean” with teenagers singing along. It made me happy to hear his music and it never occurred to me to think something must have happened. I was supposed to shoot a concert that night and I stepped outside to talk to my dad and he was the one who told me. I didn’t believe him at first, but that’s when it clicked as to why I was suddenly hearing his music everywhere. The concert I shot ended up becoming a small tribute to MJ. When I left (EVERYONE was in shock, including the artists I took photos of), an impromptu dance-off to MJ’s classics had started on U Street. (I was living in DC at the time). I also was trying to figure out why his loss felt so personal, but I think it was connected to a few different things. One, his music was basically the soundtrack to my entire childhood. My parents would play their old J5 and Jacksons records, plus they had Thriller, plus I was old enough to remember when he premiered Remember the Time and Black or White and Scream. I first saw Motown 25 on tape when I was 4 or 5. We had indoor recess at school and they showed us Michael Jackson videos. I saw that and was in love. I went home and tried to dance like Mike. (I also tried to dance like Janet too lol) I also watched Moonwalker on tape so many times that the VCR ate it up. I was *obsessed* with Moonwalker, especially Smooth Criminal and the Speed Demon segment.

    My dad and I would jam to Blood on the Dance Floor. Heaven Can Wait was my favorite song from Invincible. I didn’t really listen to Off the Wall until I started college and that’s when I realized the Neptunes ahem, borrowed heavily from that era for Justin Timberlake’s solo album. I remember getting chills the first time I heard “I Can’t Help It.”

    Two, I had lost my grandmother and uncle in fairly quick succession, and I hadn’t truly grieved for them. So, I think when MJ died, I grieved for him, but also my family and for the loss of innocence and happier times I had when I was younger. I don’t remember crying during the televised memorial; I just remember everyone at work stopped what we were doing to watch it together, and I felt so, so sad. I didn’t cry until I came across an acapella version of “Got to Be There” and when I heard “Music and Me” for the first time in years, a couple of weeks after he died. I sobbed like a baby.

    I also feel bad that I believed the rumors about him bleaching his skin and getting a ton of plastic surgery but having looked back, I realize he didn’t do that much to his face, and he was telling the truth about vitiligo. I feel bad that for a while, I wondered if he had some issues about being Black but I see that is furthest from the truth. He was a Black man from Gary, IN, a baby boomer too, and he never forgot that and was proud of that. I just feel bad that it took his untimely passing for me to really see and appreciate that.

    Sometimes I feel like he was too good for this world, and even though 50 is an incredibly short time on earth, we were lucky to have him for that long. I really hope he knew just how much he was loved, and how much joy he brought to people of all stripes. Thank you again for this site.

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