One Year Ago Today: Michael’s Memorial


Last year, in honor of the most global icon, the world’s greatest entertainer, the memorial service for Michael Jackson was held at the Staples Center in the exact same place where he practiced for what would have been his magnificent comeback. Most everyone who watched the ceremony had their heart-strings pulled and tugged every which way by the various anecdotes, songs, and poems from those who loved him. Not to mention those heart wrenching words from the princess herself, Paris Jackson.

I remember the ceremony began with a choir singing “Soon and Very Soon.” During the song, Michael’s brothers carried his casket out on a platform in front of the stage. To me, the carrying of Michael took on a different meaning. It meant that his brothers will always carry him; and with him, his legacy. No matter what, they will always be there to lift him up in front of those who want to continue to put him down.

One moment I found especially touching was the song from his brother Jermaine.  Jermaine sang Michael’s favorite song, Smile. While I had heard the song once prior to this, I’d thought of it as a sad song despite it’s title. From the first note of that song, I began to break down. It was as if a cloud of sadness came over me and I began to cry uncontrollably. Sitting in front of that television, listening to Jermaine put so much passion into every word of that song, I accepted the advice of the song and for the first time since Michael’s passing, began to accept he is in a much better place.

 For a  day, the whole world was mourning. All around the world, people were gathering and remembering when they first fell in love with Michael Jackson. There is no denying that kind of power and influence. It’s just incredible to see that there is more love in the world for Michael despite all America put him through.  

While anticipating the tears I would sure enough shed, what I was not expecting was the impromptu speech from Paris. That moment had to be the most touching of the entire ceremony. It had been her first time seen publicly, and on top of that she spoke. Spoke words that would bring many to tears within seconds. Milliseconds even. “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine, and I just wanted to say that I love him so much.” I can’t fathom the hurt her and her family endured while Michael’s body lay right in front of them as they sang “We Are The World” on that stage.

The memorial set out to give fans closure. For many of us, it was our first time grieving. For others, surprised at their emotional states, didn’t realize how great his influence was over their lives. If there was one thing that I learned from watching the ceremony, it was that there will absolutely never be another person on earth who will be able to so profoundly tug at our heart-strings throughout the world at the same time, ever again.

Maya Angelou said it best. We had him.

Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing, now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind.

Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace. Sing our songs among the stars and walk our dances across the face of the moon.

In the instant that Michael is gone, we know nothing. No clocks can tell time. No oceans can rush our tides with the abrupt absence of our treasure.

Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone, piercingly alone.

Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him.

He came to us from the creator, trailing creativity in abundance.

Despite the anguish, his life was sheathed in mother love, family love, and survived and did more than that.

He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style. We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his.

We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes.

His hat, aslant over his brow, and took a pose on his toes for all of us.

And we laughed and stomped our feet for him.

We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing. He gave us all he had been given.

Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana’s Black Star Square.

In Johannesburg and Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama, and Birmingham, England

We are missing Michael.

But we do know we had him, and we are the world.

-Maya Angelou for Michael Jackson, 2009


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