The entrance to Forest Lawn Mortuary in Glendale was eerily quiet early this morning on the 2nd anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. I could hear the songs of birds chirping as I made my way up the long, winding road. Michael Jackson said “ I feel compelled to give people some sense of escapism…I think it’s the reason I’m here” but I think he was here for something even bigger and grander. I believe he was here to teach people to love and to open their hearts. How else can I explain how a man I never met has touched my heart so deeply?
As I walk towards the mausoleum I see an arrangement of five dozen red and white roses with a tag in gold glitter that says “LOVE. MJ France.” By the end of the day I see more than one hundred of such floral displays.
As I made my way to the front of the entrance I am witness to a sea of love for this man. Homemade frames with photos of MJ, teddy bears, hand drawn cards like I make for my best friend, paintings, Mickey Mouse stuffed animals, banners from Italy, Bulgaria, Poland, Denmark, Russia, Spain, Japan and hundreds and hundreds of red roses in buckets, and sunflowers, Michael’s favorite flower, are everywhere.
I walked along the path and bent down to see a bed of cards. One read: To The King of Hearts: Thank you for everything. Keep watching over us! We are your loyal soldiers of love forever! I love you more!!! We felt your pain, now feel our love.” Another card read “my dearest Michael! I really meet you. I miss you so much. But I will living with my heart.” Someone from Japan had written L.O.V.E with a gold and white marker.
I leaned down to unfold the corners of a wind blow green and yellow banner from Brazil with hundreds of names hand written on it. As I gently placed the corners down, the woman next to me said “Thank you.” I immediately knew she was from South America. “Venia de Brazil”? I asked her in Spanish. “Did you come from Brazil’? “Especialmente para Michael.” When she said she came especially for Michael, I put my hand on my heart and my eyes welled up; I thanked her.
Groups of people were gathered under the shade of a tree as the sun beat down on the flowers. I came upon a woman sitting near the tree applying sun screen to her arms. When I asked her where she was from she answered “From Japan, I love Michael.”
A handmade quilt from Japan embroidered with rhinestones was spread out on the gaass. A card that said “Thank you Mike, for coming into my life. You rock my world. Love you Maria.”
One of my personal favorites was a hand colored drawing of Peter Pan at Neverland. Below it, a bucket filled with Michael’s favorite gum, Big Red and lollipops, just because he loved them. Ch’mon, how cute is that?
One woman took my hand and said “We are 20 from Italy.” She proudly showed me a banner made of sunflowers and Mickey Mouse that they had brought. An arrangement of lilies with Minnie Mouse. Everyone knows MJ loved Disneyland. She hugged me and said “I love Michael”.
After two-three hours I started to feel light headed from the sun and lack of water. As a friend of mine and I left to eat, I noticed a woman who was having difficulties walking up the hill. I heard one of her friends turn around and ask her “Tutto benne”? “Is everything okay?” “No” she answered but she kept walking in the heat, determined to make her way as she struggled up the hill.
I ran up to try to see if I could connect with her. “My name is Iva” she said. She had come with Brusca as part of the 20 from Naples, Milano, Brindisi, Gorizia, Sanremo, Ancona, and Cenesa, Italy. They gathered together in Milan and flew from London to Las Vegas and finally Los Angeles to be at Forest Lawn for Michael. We walked side by side as if we knew each other. We had a shared interest so it was easy to speak to each other even though my Italian isn’t great. When I went to hug her goodbye I said “I love Michael.” This time, her eyes welled up and as she rested her head on my chest I felt her warm tears spill onto my Michael Jackson Off The Wall t-shirt. The last time a complete stranger was moved to tears within 10 minutes of us meeting was also at an MJ event. Michael has an ability to disarm all armoring and to open the heart chakra.
I left Forest Lawn feeling a lot of emotion and called a friend who said “ I think this is healing for you. I’m happy you are there.” We made our way over to Carolwood Drive. We were told no flowers, no photos. I spoke to the guard at the gate who was in a parked car blocking the driveway and a minute later he was pulling his car out so I could get a picture of the gates of 100 Carolwood Drive, the home where MJ took his last inhale.
Michael Jackson gave us escapism with his music but more importantly, he had the ability to break down any and all barriers between people. Even the politicians can’t do that as Michael used to say. Michael refused to deny anyone his heart and his love. We all felt it and we gathered together in celebration of this iconic man to honor his heart. We miss him because we miss the love he shared with us. Michael said “If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.”
In 1970, 12 year old Michael sang “I’ll Be There.” Forty-one years later, he is. I love people who keep their word.