Michael Jackson would have been fifty-three years old today. As I entered the black ornate gates at the entrance of Forest Lawn Mortuary in Glendale, I was, as all the times before, struck by the silence on the grounds. I made my way past the white statue of a woman surrounded by a small pond and lily pads, past frescoes, and the green, manicured lawn.With the smell of pine trees all around, I head up the familiar winding road to the sign leading me to the massive marble and concrete mausoleum that displays the Last Supper window, a life-size stained-glass re-creation of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece. In the distance are rows of California palm trees before I make my way to Holly Terrace.
A gentle breeze makes it a perfect Southern California day. Forest Lawn has now set up a booth selling Michael’s favorite flower, sunflowers. Michael called them “the happy flower” because they looked happy to him and they made him happy. You can also buy red roses and assorted flowers because of the steady flow of visitors they’ve experienced since Michael was entombed here on September 3, 2009.
From the amount of sunflowers, roses, handmade cards, handmade candles, pictures in frames, one would think he would have just left us but it’s been two years, two months and four days since he left his physical body.
As I was kneeling down picking up beautiful homemade cards that looked as if each and every one took hours to make, I noticed a woman with six bags of cards & gifts. She has created a group called Sunflowers for Michael, whose sole purpose is to keep fresh flowers by his resting place forever. Loving, devoted fans from all over the world send cards, banners and flowers to her on the anniversary of his death, his birthday and Christmas. She has set up a post office box where you can donate as little as $10. Her dedication and hard work is inspiring. You can mail Sandy at: email@example.com
I met Nena Znezana Akhtar, who came all the way to Los Angeles from Germany. She planned this sojourn with her husband and two children; Ilyas aged eight & Chalisa,ten. Nena said “I stay here completely two weeks just for Michael and one friend comes. She also Michael fan. We go to Neverland, Encino Hayvenhurst, Carolwood Drive, last house, Grammy Museum, Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills Hotel – he stayed there. I take a leaf from here (as she reached for a leaf from a nearby bush) and from Neverland. Here are my handmade cards.” As tears rolled down my face, I thanked her.
I left Forest Lawn only to arrive home to find out Michael’s brother Randy was going to be there towards the end of the day. I felt so inspired after seeing all that Sandy and Nena do that a drive back on the Ventura freeway seemed like nothing at all so I could share my photos with MJ fans around the globe.
Michael faced many headwinds in his life but he persevered no matter what. He always said it was all for love and his legions of fans are testament to the love he shared with his caring, compassionate, non judgmental heart. Their dedication and love for him moves me to tears and part of my mission is to help show who he was. As all great artists do, Michael gave us the gift of his soul. He was divinely connected to something bigger than himself and understood the power of love. G-d bless all the people that are fighting for justice for Michael and doing their part to spread the word about who this man was, a gift from G-d.
I still haven’t located an original copy of Michael’s out of print book, Dancing the Dream but in the title page I hear is a favorite quote of Michael’s.
“If you enter the world knowing you are loved and leave the world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.”