Part of me thinks I’m out of my mind for shedding a tear for Michael Jackson, a man who allegedly engaged in questionable (if not criminal) activities with children. Yet here I am with my television on watching his memorial service and feeling a sadness for what I'm not sure.
I watch as a spotlight shines on his gold coffin. Musicians and other celebrities take the stage and share their own memories and thoughts of the Michael they knew.
He’s been a controversial figure in the past. Evidence exists that makes you question his morality. His life has been turbulent and troubled to say the least. Yet his music, his dance, his sheer stardom are undeniable. He is a part of music history, of my history, my memories.
I remember Jackson 5 records being among the first of my collection. I remember how my cousin and I would take over the living room as we danced and sang to “ABC” and “I’ll Be There.” We were not much younger than he was at the time he recorded those songs. In later years, a friend and I sat in her car singing “We Are the World,” over and over and over again. Such a powerful message that song delivered.
As I sit here, I ponder the “why” of my tears. Perhaps I shed a tear for my own youth…. for a childhood where I would escape into books and an imaginary world of my own creation. I can understand wanting to have a worry-free childhood and how he tried to recreate that for himself. Perhaps I shed a tear for my own mortality… for the idea that if he can die, so can I. Perhaps I shed a tear for the sad ending to his life. A life spent searching for something – acceptance, love, happiness – something that eluded him regardless of the lavish lifestyle he lived.
Like many others probably, I try to deny the idea that he could truly hurt a child. I want to believe instead that he was reliving his own childhood that years earlier had gone awry. Yet the allegations and evidence speak loudly. They are hard to ignore.
Today as I watch the memorial, I am sad that no one was able to help him see the joy and promise of the life he had before him. I am sad that he may have put his selfish needs above others’. I am sad that instead of inviting the people who truly loved and cared about him into his closest circle of friends and family, he kept the “yes” men and women close by – people who sat idly by, or even took an active part, in his demise.
But we can’t blame others. We are all born with free will, and it was his will to engage in destructive behavior that may or may not have played a role in his death. It was his choice to put his reputation on the line. But still I watch the memorial and see the vibrant entertainer that he was. I imagine the excitement that would have emanated from the stage of his London tour.
In the end, however, it was his daughter who spoke through her own tears the words that matter most…. “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine, and I just want to say I love him so much.”
I hope and pray that he was a good father, and that these three children who carry his name take from that memorial service special memories of not just a superstar but of a father who loved them.
But now it's time for the world to return its collective thoughts to other things. It's time for us to think about the U.S. soldiers who are helping the people of other countries. It's time to think about the many people all over the world who devote their time and energy to improve the lives of others. It's time to think about the amazing opportunities each of us are given and how we shouldn't squander them.
So, good-bye M.J. It's time to move on....