When I arrived at the guard gate at Forest Lawn Mortuary in Glendale, it seemed fairly quiet. As I drove my car up past the green lawns, I saw gravesites with a small bunch of flowers here and there. Most of the flowers looked wilted as if someone left them long ago. I think we each have a handful that love us after we are gone.
I parked and walked quite a distance to get to my destination: Michael Jackson’s tomb. Not being allowed into the mausoleum is something I object to but I intend to get close and I do. I haven’t been here since he was interred September 4, 2009. Barricades were portioned and one line formed so we could pass by a place designated for offerings. The people working for Forest Lawn kept up a steady mantra of “Keep moving, don’t stop”. Hundreds, no thousands of people and I came upon a sight of flowers, banners, candles, posters, and statues in a designated area that was growing larger every moment. I think Forest Lawn put a kibosh on the anniversary of his death by not allowing everyone to enter inside. The level of access is poor. I’ve never witnessed anything but caring, loving, compassionate fans so I think rules should be bent a bit considering how many go to great lengths to pay him respect.
I still believe Michael should be buried at Neverland. I know his heart was broken when Thomas Sneddon orchestrated raiding the ranch with seventy officers but the magic of Michael was in the space he created with his own amusement park filled with his menagerie and a place for sick children to visit.
I overheard conversations of “I told my boyfriend I was going to Neverland yesterday. It’s four hours each way. Michael lived in the mountains and there’s no cell phone reception so I didn’t call my boyfriend all day. He called me and said “why didn’t you call? You’re doing something deceitful”. ”Oh ya, I’m doing something deceitful” she sarcastically tells her friend. “I told you I’m visiting Neverland. You are upset because you’re not getting attention. “
I was sitting on the lawn where a young woman says to me “Michael is love. I don’t think of him in the past. He is present and he is love”. Michael Jackson has been gone one year today but you wouldn’t know it from the gathering.
I met Carlo Riley, a software developer who is a Michael look-a-like. He started to emulate Michael when he was five and now has his own show.
Four of Michael’s siblings came out as I vied for a spot, just like the others, for anything Jackson exiting the mausoleum. Attached are photos of Janet, Jermaine, Tito and Randy. Katherine is in Gary, Indiana with Paris, Prince and Blanket for a Michael event.
I needed some shade from the sun and started back to the entrance of the barricades where I came upon a young woman who was crying and physically shaking. I put my arm around her and asked “what is wrong”. She looked up at me, and cried even more. Her eyes were red, the tears were streaking down her face and as she reached into her purse. I had a feeling what she was going to share. Thoughts going through me were “I wonder if she took a taxi here, maybe she needs a place to stay”. She pulled out a piece of paper that looked as if it was torn from a notebook. She had written, in pencil, in precise penmanship, something along the lines of “ I have come here alone from Japan. I am so sorry but I don’t speak English. I am here because of the love I feel for Michael Jackson”. As she looked up to me again we were both crying and I kept my arm around her. Michael’s light melts armoring.
As I drove home to upload my photos to share with my favorite Michael Jackson website, I listen to the song and the words of MJ’s “Little Susie” play.
“Somebody killed little Susie
The girl with the tune
Who sings in the daytime at noon
She was there screaming
Beating her voice in her doom
But nobody came to her soon.”
I found a quote by Cory Rooney, who was Tommy Mottola’s right hand at Sony during Michael’s reign.
CR: “Let me explain to you what was said to me directly from Michael. Michael and I spoke about that. He said, ‘Cory, when I was a kid, I was denied not only a childhood but I was denied love. When I reached out to hug my father, he didn’t hug me back. When I was scared on an airplane, he didn’t put his arm around me and say Michael, don’t worry. It’s going to be ok. When I was scared to go on stage, he said, ‘Get your ass on this stage.’ Not just him, but every other adult around him.
So he said to me ‘Cory, I will never deny a child love and if it means that I have to be crucified or put in jail for it, then that’s just what they’re gonna have to do.’ When it was time for him to stand trial, the first time he went through it, his advisors told him, ‘Michael, this is not good. Pay this kid off and let’s keep moving.’ Second time he said, ‘You know what? All that did was make me look guilty like I was hiding something. So this time there won’t be any payoffs. I’m going to fight this in court. You’ll see. I’ll be innocent.’
Right to the day when they finally had to read the verdict and the verdict was in, I talked to his family cause I remember watching on the news that Michael had 45 minutes to get there. So I spoke to some of his family members that were in the house with Michael. I said, ‘Well, what the hell is he doing?’ He’s upstairs getting dressed. He came downstairs. He said a prayer with his family and he told everyone, ‘I want you guys not to worry about me because I will be ok.’
After I flash danced to They Don’t Care About Us in front of Madame Tussauds Hollywood while feeling every hurt and pain my body has ever been through; I mustled my way to view Michael’s star on Hollywood Blvd. It was covered with candles and cards so thick his name could barely be made out. A stop by the Jackson compound on Hayvenhurst Blvd in Encino to grab a moment of love which was filled with fans holding white candles singing Heal The World. A young woman looked at me and said “do you want a candle” as she reached into a small cardboard box with dozens of white candles and paper holders. I could hear sobs when Gone Too Soon played. When I hear Michael sing this song I don’t think just of Ryan White anymore, I think of Michael.I know Michael reached out to Ryan when he was dying of aids and was being judged. Michael understood judgement. Even though I was emotionally and physically exhausted from the days’ events and driving, I wanted to get photos from as many locations possible. I wanted to have complete coverage of photos for fans all over the world who aren’t blessed enough to live so close to where Michael Jackson grew up in Los Angeles.
This is the power of Michael Jackson. He brings together strangers from corners all over the world. Not just because he sang Billie Jean and danced to Beat It but because he was L.O.V.E and we could feel that coming from him. Where we try to communicate with text messages, telephones and emails, there is something magical about being face to face with another person who feels the love that Michael Jackson gave back and shared with all of us. It’s palpable whenever there is a gathering of his followers. The girl from Japan continued on her way, wanting to take in every moment as I had a brief conversation with a friend that I love by phone. As I sat under a tree, I saw her walking arm in arm with another person. Michael said “let us reach out to those who are alone. Let us all tell them you are not alone”. She was being held by the love all around her and even though she was far from home, it seemed as if she didn’t feel alone anymore. Michael continues to bring us together in our humanity, from our solitude, into love.