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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My thoughts on Michael Jackson

I spent the afternoon watching Michael Jackson's memorial and feeling sad. A part of me felt embarrassed for even feeling sad. After all, Jackson was the topic of freak jokes, suspected of being a pedophile, and poked fun of in general for years.

But the one-gloved wonder was my favorite childhood singer.

I loved Michael Jackson as a child and pre-teen. I obsessed over his music, buying everything I could afford on my meager allowance. I even kept a scrapbook of articles and pictures about him. I wish I still had it.

I didn't feel sad when I first heard of his death. I was shocked, intrigued about how he died, and wondered what the outcome of his autopsy would be.

But after watching his memorial, I was reminded just how human he was, despite his appearance and all the rest of the Michael Jackson facade. And I feel a profound loss, which surprises me.
I also feel sad for his children. They have lost their father. And now that I'm a mother, I have real insight as to how this will dramatically alter their lives.

During the service, I, and I assume millions of other viewers, was interested in catching a glimpse of his children.

At first I didn't think they would show them. Throughout the service the camera panned quickly over the family and seemed to keep a careful distance from the kids, especially Blanket, the youngest.

Then at the end, they showed them in full view up on stage during the We Are the World rendition. It felt awkward and a bit callous how easily the family paraded them in front of the world when for all of their lives Michael had carefully kept them from the spotlight. Then wham, he's not even buried and they are in full view during a media circus.

Their lives will never be the same. They have lost their father and now they are being taken care of by the very people who put him in the spotlight and took away his childhood, as he complained of in past years. Up until now, they have been living what I can only guess was a relatively normal life.

That's all about to change. At least it will over the next few weeks and maybe months while the media speculates about his death.

MJ never had a real childhood. It is assumed that because of his upbringing, he clearly had severe mental problems. And now, likely, his worst fear has come true. His children will endure the same kind of intense public scrutiny that he did.

As a mother it frightens me to no end when I think of the possibility that I might die before Annika grows up. I can't imagine anyone more fit to raise her than myself and Toyin. Not even our families. It's not that they wouldn't do fine. But no one wants their kids to just be fine. I have hopes and dreams for her. I want to protect her from things that others, even family members, might inflict on her.

I can only assume that Michael Jackson felt the same.

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