Category Archives: Personal Reflections

Thoughts On Seeing Michael In Death

An Image Of "The Last Night"...The Way We Prefer To Remember Michael

I never wanted to see Michael Jackson dead. I was one of those that always shuddered at the thought that there were autopsy and hospital post-mortem photos “out there.” Like many, I feared and dreaded the inevitable day those photos would be leaked. There were rumors of tabloids and other parties offering up to half a million for them. For over two years, an excellent job had been done at keeping those private and under seal, as they should be. But like the white elephant in the room, we always knew they existed, and that one day…

Of course, we now know that even the notorious “ambulance photo” was actually a post-mortem photo. None of us asked to see that, either, but it was splashed on magazine and tabloid covers all over the world. It was bad enough to think that this was the last photo ever taken of Michael alive . But now we know better. Michael was dead from the time Murray found him not breathing. He was dead long before the paramedics arrived. So in that sense, the world had already seen Michael Jackson in death. But maybe it’s just that a hastily snapped, paparazzi photo isn’t the same as looking at a graphic, coroner investigator photo of him lying on a hospital gurney-or worse yet, on the autopsy table.

I knew, of course, that the jury would probably see these photos. Like many, however, I wasn’t quite expecting that they would be displayed on TV. Chalk it up to the pros and cons of having live TV cameras in a court room. We can’t have our cake and eat it, too. Allowing cameras and a live broadcast feed from the court room means we see it all, just as the jury does. Warts and all.

I understand why the prosecution wanted the photos shown to the jury. What is inexcusable is how the media immediatly jumped the bandwagon; within minutes those photos were posted on TMZ, The LA Times, in fact, every media outlet I can think of. Haters tweeted the autopsy photo to Michael’s children. I have already seen many of the inevitable, horrid photoshops, the kind that sick individuals with apparently nothing better to do with their lives, like to create. Even in death, Michael has been allowed no dignity, no privacy. Even many of his closest family members refused to view him post-mortem. I know that both Katherine and Joe have stated they did not view him. I believe his brother Tito said he chose not to view him. As Latoya described in her book, this was one reason why she was elected as caretaker of her brother’s remains. Latoya, always the most giddy and seemingly “airheaded” of the Jackson family, proved surprisingly to be the strongest when it came to some of the most gruesome post-mortem tasks involving her brother’s remains. It was Latoya who took Michael’s children in to see their father one last time, so that they might have that closure. She was the one who picked out his burial outfit. In her latest book, one particularly gut-wrenching scene is her description of a few days before Michael’s entombment, when a lab tech, photographer, and police officer said they would need a palm print and more hair samples as part of the ongoing death investigation. Literally propping her dead brother’s body up in a chair, she describes going to great pains to make sure the body was draped with a sheet and covered at all times throughout the ordeal. Why? Because she didn’t trust the photographer; didn’t trust that any photo snapped in the name of “official business” might not somehow find its way to the front page of The National Enquirer!

So one can only imagine how painful it must be now, to know those post-mortem photos are out there for the world to ogle.

Celebrity autopsy photos are big business. In fact, all you have to do is a quick google search for autopsies, and you will find sites that link to the autopsy photos of Marilyn Monroe, Kennedy, and Tupac Shakur, among others. I will admit, I have looked at those photos. Like many humans, I am naturally curious. It’s the same instinctive compulsion that makes us look when we pass the scene of an accident, even though we know we shouldn’t. I will look, but then feel guilty, knowing such photos are the ultimate invasion of someone’s privacy. After all, we are never more vulnerable, more piteously exposed, than in death.

But there are two thoughts of mind on this. Death is also a very natural process. I have always had this sort of clinical ability to detach myself and be able to view a deceased body in, I suppose, the same way a person in the medical field would. Perhaps I’m one of those who would have made a good doctor or mortician, had I been so inclined. It doesn’t “freak me out” to see a dead body. I have seen many of my own loved ones in death, and it has always brought me closure. As some will say, it is only a body, after all. The person is no longer there.

However, I could never quite bring myself to apply that to Michael. Michael Jackson-the most vibrant, dancing, dynamic performer of our time-was not someone I wanted to see dead. I did not seek to see him in death. But the world splashed those photos all over the place, and left us with little choice. That day, when that photo was put before the jury and in front of the TV cameras, we were a captive audience-in the worst sense of that word. The true definition of a “captive audience” is akin to someone tied and roped to a chair, forced to look because they have no other alternative. In that sense, yes, we were a captive audience to something most of us never wanted to see.

No, I didn’t seek those images. But here I have to confess-once they were out there, I did look. But in this case, it was not the same kind of morbid curiosity with which I had looked at other dead images of celebrities. This was something else. It felt intensely personal somehow. Maybe, in a way, I felt like I was finally having my own sense of closure. I will never post or link to those photos, and really have no desire to look at them again. But having seen them, I want to try to describe some of the emotions they envoked-good and bad.

On many forums, I have seen discussions where fans confessed they looked at the photos, even studied them, but then admitted they felt overwhelmingly guilty. The guilt is understandable, because we all know how Michael felt about his privacy, and we do recognize that this is an invasion. But remember, we didn’t ask for these images to be thrust on us. Let’s not beat ourselves up. As I’ve already stated, curiosity is a natural human inclination. Michael himself was fascinated with such things. In Latoya’s first book, she described Michael one day bringing a human brain that he had managed to get from a lab, home to his bedroom. “Don’t tell mother!” he said. He was fascinated with it; wanted to study and dissect it, she said. There was nothing ‘strange” about that. He was a kid, and a boy’s nature is usually to be fascinated with “gross” things. If I know Michael, he would have gotten a laugh out of chasing Latoya and Janet around the house with that brain, giggling as they screeched and screamed.

As for the autopsy photo, I’m not even going there. That was just too much. The hospital gurney photo was sad, but to me, not gruesome or morbid. When I first saw it, I cried and had to gather myself for about five minutes. But the more I looked at it, the more I found a kind of peaceful beauty to it. Let me explain, because this is hard.

The Body of St. Clare

First of all, let me just say, there’s nothing beautiful about the fact that he was lying there dead, far too soon, and for reasons that are just too stupid for words. But it gave me great comfort to see that in death, he was not gross; he was as beautiful as he had always been. I have never been one of those fans who go around describing Michael in deified terms-he was not an angel, or a saint, or a god to me. He was a human being, with all the flaws and frailities of a human being. But when I saw that photo, I couldn’t help but compare it to some of the paintings I have seen of dead saints. There was an ethereal quality about it, but at the same time, something that was heartbreakingly vulnerable and sad. As I looked at his arms, so thin and stilled upon the bedsheet, gauzed with tape. I couldn’t help but think how those arms wanted to hug his children one last time; I thought of him having to go alone, to face the other side without them. I thought of how many hugs those arms had given. I thought of all the pain he had endured in his last years, and that now no one could hurt him, ever again. Call me crazy, if you want. But I just wanted to reach through that photo and stroke his hair and place a parting kiss on his cheek. I wanted to say, thank you for everything you gave us, and now, sleep well. Remember those final lines from Hamlet?

 

Good night, sweet prince

May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest

I guess, really, this is all just a long-winded way of saying, after two years of dread, I have now seen Michael in death. And really, it wasn’t so bad for me (I am speaking from purely personal experience, of course). It gave me peace and closure. Hopefully, no more photos will be leaked, but as many have said, the damage has already been done. Despite numerous complaints, TMZ has refused to remove the autopsy photo. I suspect it generates far too many hits for them to even consider taking it down. But we knew long ago that Harry Levin has no decency, so what else is new? I often go back and think about how hard most of us worked to get that Discovery channel reenactment of the autopsy cancelled. It almost seems in vain now. We instigated that campaign to preserve Michael’s dignity, only to have it violated anyway. The only saving grace, and only difference in this case, is the knowledge that at least-hopefully, this was done in the name of justice, rather than ratings. But however you slice it, the result is the same.

But at this point it doesn’t do much good to get our blood pressure worked up over what can’t be changed. The photos are “out there” now, and will be from here on out, no matter how hard we may work to avoid them. From my standpoint, I’ve simply decided to “own it,” as they say. I have seen the photos, I looked at them; I have made my peace with them. They are not gruesome. They are Michael. And yes, he was as beautiful in death as in life. Death could not take that away. As the old saying goes, once you’ve been faced with something you feared or dreaded, it no longer controls you. It’s like, okay, it’s happened, it’s over, take a deep breath. It wasn’t so bad. Much of this entire trail has been that way for me, to tell the truth. Thankfully, we’re almost to the light at the end of the tunnel.

We're Baaaaaack!

"Well It's About Damn Time!"

Hi everyone!

Well, after a very long delay and surviving the worst year of my life, I am finally back and Allforloveblog is back in business-for good this time. Well, sort of. As you can see, I have pretty much had to start the site over from scratch, but do not fear. All of the old content is still safe. As some of you may already know, the old site was back online briefly in a “read only” format. But maintaining the site as it was while trying to get things operational again and uploading to a new host server proved impossible. 

This was the only realistically viable solution. But as I’ve stated, everything is still safe. The plan is to provide a direct link to the old site’s content from here. All of that will take some time, so bear with me. However, the upside is that Allforloveblog is now on a paid, permanent host server which means another catastrophe like the one that put me out of commission for most of 2011 will NOT happen again. Ever.

This isn’t the time or place to go into everything that happened to me this past year. Most of you, I’m sure, are well aware from my Facebook updates that I have had a traumatic year of many personal setbacks. Not the least was that in February of this year, only a few days after having posted my last entry for Februray 5th about how to break down a Michael Jackson concert, I was suddenly left without power in the dead of winter and completely stranded. I survived, but for days I had no power, no heat-and no internet. Of course, had that been the worst of it, life could have gotten back to normal once the power was restored. But no, I also had to deal with a situation in which the home computer network was completely down and with no knowledge or expertise in how to restore it or to retrieve my data, I was helpless. I had no one to turn to because even the most knowledgable computer geeks I knew could not figure out the intricacies of our former setup. And frankly, with so many urgent and more pressing issues I had to deal with at the time (the breakup of a 16-year relationship, and struggling to cope with the new pressures of trying to keep my home and to make a living for myself) I don’t think anyone can fault me if I say getting the site back online was a priority that had to take a backseat for awhile. Now that things in my life have finally started to turn around, I can once again bring the kind of focus and dedication to this site that I did before. Of course, now that I have to work full time to make ends meet, I may not be able to update as frequently as I did in the past. But hopefully, the quality will manage to outweigh the quantity.

That’s as much as I’m going to say about me or what happened to me this past year. I realize this site is about Michael, not about me, and that my readers come here to get my latest updates on all things MJ. I will just say that from this point forward, a new page has been turned and I’m really looking forward to embarking on this journey again.

However,  there’s nothing like six weeks with no internet to really make one appreciate Michael Jackson on a whole new level. I didn’t realize just how immersed I had become in the whole cyberspace MJ “fan-mily” thing until I had to spend time without it. Suddenly, I had no access to the latest media gossip; no way to know what deviousness TMZ had been up to lately, or what some ill informed hater had to say. I lost touch for a time with the whole back and forth war between the Jacksons and the estate; with the protests against Sony, all of the fan wars, and even with the details of the death investigation and impending Murray trial. So what did I do during that time? How did I pass all of those lonely, winter hours? Well, I listened to my Michael Jackson CD’s. I watched my videos and DVD’s. I read the books I have on him…you know, those quaint, old fashioned things with the hard covers and pages in between; many of which I had been intending to “get around” to reading for ages. I became reacquainted with Moonwalk. On many a chilly March afternoon, I wrapped myself in a blanket and devoured Dancing the Dream.

Taking Some Time To Step Back Can Have Its Own Rewards

 

In short, I once again got to know Michael Jackson the artist and, perhaps even moreso, Michael Jackson the man. Without the distractions and drama of the internet, I reconnected to the things about Michael that mattered most. And yes, these are the things that do matter most-his own words, his music, his artistry, his dance steps that defied the laws of physics-these are all of the things that will still be here, and will still matter, long after everything else has died away.

But with that being said, I was happy to once again be able to rejoin the cyberspace community. I am eternally grateful for Facebook, which enabled me to stay connected to most of you throughout this ordeal. I am grateful to all of you for your kind words and encouragement, and for never losing faith that Allforlove would return. I am grateful and thankful to my fellow MJ bloggers who kept me in the loop and who kept me on their blogrolls. Of course, if you did remove me, I understand. After all, eight months is a long time to keep up an inactive link. Hopefully, everyone will help spread the word that AFLB is back. As for those of you who were on my previous blogroll, I will add all of you back; it will just take me some time to get everything organized again and back 100% to the way it was. So if you hear me say “bear with me” once, you will probably hear it a million times over the next few weeks, LOL.

Of course my biggest regret is not being able to get the site back up in time to cover the Murray trial. I’d had very high hopes that I would be able to be back online before the trial got underway in September, but due to yet another curveball that life decided to throw us at that point, it did not happen. So here we are, with the trial entering what will most likely be its final week. I was really looking forward to bringing you many, many chapters of Murray’s Believe It Or Not (my own little take on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not) as we weighed through all of the ridiculous defense theories. But at this point, I guess all of that is really moot. Everything that’s been done or said during this trial has already been thoroughly hashed out, scrutinized, analyzed, poked, prodded, inspected, dejected, etc., etc on many, many sites. Once Dr. Paul White is cross-examined by the prosecuton on Monday, it will all be pretty much over save for closing arguements, jury deliberation-and, of course, the verdict.

What I will most likely do is post a general, overall summary of my thoughts on the entire trial, rather than trying to play a desperate game of “catch up” with everything that has transpired. Like most of you, I’ve been glued to my set and to the internet these past four weeks, and boy has it been a rollercoaster of emotions! Over the next week or so, I’ll post my thoughts, analysis, and reflections on this last week of the trial, as well as my summary of the past four weeks overall. I’ll just say there have been a lot of things that have surprised me-pleasantly so, but then a lot of things that were totally in line with what I expected, along with a few shockers, and yes, some moments of total disgust.

In the meantime, I just want you all to know how much your loyalty to me during this difficult time has been appreciated!