Michael Jackson died today. He was 50 years old.
I won't pretend to be saddened by news of his death. I did not know him, nor love him. Nor will I miss him. I acknowledge that his contribution to music was huge and long-reaching and will likely continue to be for generations to come. He was enormously talented...and terribly broken. His death has stunned the world and as I write this, the world thinks only, it seems, of him.
I, however, am thinking of three others: My brother, my mother, and his mother.
Through these Mama lenses, through which I now filter every aspect of my world, I mourn another mother's loss. That Michael Jackson was a troubled, tortured soul is well-documented. But he was Katherine's son - by some accounts her most beloved and for her, I ache.
Watching the news tonight: everywhere, on every station footage of the boy he was, the man he morphed into and speculation about what might have been his future life, abounds. And I sat here, agog, watching, waiting...feeling a viciousness and weird, out-of-place sense of familiarity with the story unfolding before me, practically in real time.
Like my brother, Michael died of a heart attack, found not breathing at his home. Like my brother, he was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Another brother, gone too soon. Someone else's brother, taken so swiftly, with so much left unsaid, undone. Secrets.
And I chuckled darkly, as it dawned on me that I was not saddened, even as I saw hundreds gather outside the hospital where he lays now, cold and alone. I was pissed.
Pissed because THIS is how it should have been, how it felt, when my brother died, taken so swiftly, with so much left unsaid, undone. I wanted then, as I do now, for the world to simply stop. My brother is dead, my brother is DEAD, I wanted to scream at strangers - be quiet! Be silent. Be STILL.
For Michael Jackson, it seems, the world has stopped, if only to catch its collective breath, to gasp in surprise, in shock. I even took a perverse sort of pleasure in flinging open the front door as my husband arrived home this evening to announce, "Michael Jackson died!"
Children of the 80's both, Mark and I watched the news, awash in memories, quietly trading commentary on the commentary. Mark, typically chilled and watchful, absorbing. Me, not-so-typically cynical and spewing venom. Pissed.
And then suddenly the anger faded as I made the connection between Michael Jackson and my darling Andrew and I sort of wilted and stopped talking altogether. Thought about my Mum and wondered if she's watching the news, if she'd even know who Michael Jackson is (was) and if she'd be sad, too, thinking of Andrew.
Thought about Michael's mother and realized that the only truth that matters is this: No matter what sort of man Michael Jackson was (or wasn't), what he did (or didn't do) and whether or not we agree with the lifestyle he chose, he was still somebody's son.
My prayers tonight are for her - simply a mother, bidding her son farewell.