Celebrating Love on Michael Jackson’s Birthday
Michael Jackson would have been fifty-seven years old today. The now familiar black wrought iron gates signal the entrance to Forest Lawn Glendale. As I wind up the entrance I see Aleppo pines, a single rose here and there, flower arrangements, pinwheels of red, orange and blue spinning softly in the wind as the birds sing their songs.
Amidst the roses, handmade cards, balloons, and stuffed animals is the feeling of love that Michael Jackson spread around the world with his music and his heart.
Eleanor Roosevelt said “to do what you feel in your heart for you’ll be criticized anyway.” Michael embodied this throughout his life. Watching television as a young boy with his mother, he was moved to tears when he saw images of starving children in Africa. “Mother”, he vowed, “I’m going to do something about this someday.” And, true to his word, he did.
My hope is these photos show how Michael was loved and even though he was subjected to immense injustice, the fans know the truth even though the media was trying to tarnish his reputation throughout his career.
I love the simplicity of this tiny bear with the note “Happy birthday to you in heavens.”
Divina Baham organized “The Messenger of Love” Foundation back in 2011. They celebrate Michael’s birthday, his passing and bring bags of love out reach visiting homeless shelters, Shriner’s Hospital for Children and dedicated a tree to Michael at Lake Balboa. This year they brought a cake to Forest Lawn in honor of Michael.
Hitomi came from Japan for only 3 days. I was told by Hitomi’s friend that many Japanese visitors stay for such a short amount of days because they have to get back to work.
Rieko from Japan on the other hand, came for 3 weeks to study English at a small school for her university back home. “My main purpose is Michael Jackson’s birthday” she told me. It was her first time in LA and in her own words, “a dream come true”. I thought it was so cute how she carried her MJ doll in the tiny bag with “I am King of Pop” on it.
I met Gloria Lopez. She told me she was 13 years old when her grandfather died. He was her father figure and her best friend, who took care of her since she was 3 months old. After he died, she became depressed and suicidal, as it was her first experience of death. She didn’t want to go to school, was getting “F” grades and was sent to a psychiatrist. She said “I heard “You Rock My World” in 2001 and it was the first time I smiled since my grandfather died. I started devoting myself to MJ research. I became an honor student and received a Masters In Art Education doing my thesis on Michael.” She told me she teaches art to children because of Michael’s influence on her.
I met Marguerite, who flew all the way from France. Her first time to the states was in 2012 for the Immortal World Tour. She saw the Immortal World Tour 2 times in France that same year. She returned to Forest Lawn in August, 2014 and saw the One show two times that year. This year she told me that she came to Los Angeles for Michael’s spiritual message.
Michael’s commitment to his art, no matter what was happening in his life, is a testament to the artist he was; always bearing his soul in his music. His ability to connect with his fans all around the globe is evident even six years after he has left his physical body. Even in the fierce California heat, people come from France, from Japan, from all around the world, to pay their respects to the Man in the Mirror, who built an army of love.
One of Michael’s greatest gifts was how he cared for humanity and spread love. His Army of Love is still going strong, carrying the message that Michael was sharing with us his entire life: Love one another, take care of each other and continue to give, share and breathe love every step of our journey here. Michael was a spiritual messenger who walked his walk. He held up a mirror to humanity and in the end, Michael’s message continues to light the way.