Michael Jackson has Found his Corner of the Sky

There was a pall cast over yesterday. I felt it as soon as I woke up. Something about this day was going to turn out badly. I tried to dismiss it as one of my melancholy moods trying to take a hold, but I could not think of anything that would make me reluctant to go food shopping. I turned on the TV and found that Farrah Fawcett had died after her three year struggle. As a cancer survivor, I admired her fight and hoped that she was now at peace. The news of the passing of the 1970’s pin up queen did not seem to explain my malaise.  It was not until 4:30 when CNN announced that Michael Jackson died of a cardiac arrest while preparing for a three year world tour that I realized why my heart was so heavy.

A few tears accompanied a flood of memories. I remember running home from school to see Michael Jackson on the Dating Game. My first record album (purchased for $5.99 at now defunct E. J. Korvettes) was his solo debut “Got to be There.” My first friendships in my adopted country of America were cemented to the dance moves of the Jackson 5. No black girl’s bedroom was complete without photos of Michael and his brothers. Saturday morning was not complete without the J-5 cartoon and no one in my ‘hood ever uttered the question who is better the Jacksons or the Osmonds? College parties were punctuated with “Wanna be Startin’ Somethin'”, “Thriller” and “Smooth Criminal.”  I cheered as Michael broke the MTV color barrier with “Billie Jean”  and tried to learn every step of  the groundbreaking “Thriller” video. One of my most treasured musical memories was seeing the Jacksons/Michael Jackson reunion tour in the mid 80’s.

As his fame success skyrocketed the boy I crushed on had become a parody of a music superstar. His so-called combination of vitiligo and lupus, left him with a deathly pale pallor (even though vitiligo is intermittent). His nose became a thin sliver of cartilage. He slept in a hyperbaric chamber. He eschewed his adult superstar friends like Liz Taylor, Dianna Ross and Brooke Shields for children like Emmanuel Lewis and McCauley Culkin. Did the child abuse he suffered as a child stunt him at a pre-adolescent age?  Was his Peter Pan obsession so entrenched that he thought sleeping with an unrelated little boy  in your bed was normal instead of extremely abhorrent? Could his father’s constant harping about his looks lead an adolescent to bleach his skin and mutilate his face? His children are not genetically related to him. Could it be that Michael could not stand seeing his own former reflection in his children’s faces?

Michael Jackson leaves us with the joy of his music, dancing and showmanship and the puzzlement at his bizarre, controversial, tortured life. One of my favorite J-5 songs was “Corner of the Sky.” Some of the lyrics are as follows:

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

I truly hope that the happiness he finds in his corner of the sky is proportionate to all the pleasure he gave made all of us. That the demons that followed him during his life fade away as he soars with the eagles and the Neverland he tried so hard to perfect on earth will find him above.

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