Michael Jackson didn’t change my life.
But, he has always been a part of it. His music, and that of his brothers; the cheesy Saturday morning cartoon that we watched (after eating breakfast and getting dressed and making our bed, of course), the advent of music videos; all of this can be inexorably linked to Michael in my world.
Not to mention, the purchase of my first record album. (Well, possibly the second, depending on whether Glass Houses by Billy Joel was rung up first by the cashier at the record store in Grand Central Station that day in 1980 while we waited for our Amtrak train.) I had birthday money to burn, if I recalled correctly, and Glass Houses and Off the Wall came home with me.
I played that album to death. I remember lying on the floor in the living room at night, the two stereo speakers on the floor on either side of my head,(Remember, youngsters—this was not only before the internet, and before the CD but before the Walkman and ear buds made it into common use!) blasting those albums.
I don’t have either album any longer. And while I am heading to a Billy Joel/Elton John concert next week, I have to admit there currently are no Michael Jackson tunes amidst the 3400 songs on my IPOD.
Today I turned on the television while I walked 1.3 miles on the elliptical (hey, I am working towards working out, ok??) Believe it or not, this was the first time I have watched television since Michael died. I have so far avoided all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth.
My first reaction to his death, and one that still stands, is that there is a sad, tortured life that has been freed.
Still, I tuned in to CNN and caught the last 15 minutes of the memorial, and they were singing We Are The World. A song that always sends shivers.
The heartbreak, however– the part that brought tears to my eyes, to mourn a man I rarely considered– was when Paris took the microphone. While I applaud Michael in his ability to shield his children from the craziness that is Hollywood, I think we never imagined him in the role that Paris and her brothers knew.
I think then and there Michael became to all of us something more than just a singer, an entertainer, a dancer; more than a late-night joke, more than a whisper of tabloid headlines.
He became a father.
And his death leaves three young, innocent and distraught children without the stability that he had yearned for both himself and for them.
Peace be with them.