Friday, June 26, 2009

Human Nature

And it cuts like a knife
She's out of my life

I found out this week that an old friend who I had not seen in years had committed suicide. I was surprised at the sense of loss that I felt for someone I knew only through other friends and I’d not seen in several years. She had a great husband, a beautiful daughter and a thriving business. I wondered how her family could recover from their grief.

I've got to get stronger
And I won't give up the fight

When I heard the news about Farrah Fawcett’s death yesterday after her extensive—and quite public—battle with cancer, my thoughts on my friend’s death turned from sadness to anger. How could she throw away her life when there were so many people out there fighting tooth and nail just to survive?

It's Too High To Get Over
Too Low To Get Under
You're Stuck In The Middle
And The Pain Is Thunder

I can’t imagine how dark it must have been for her that she couldn’t see light. What a horrible and lonely place that must have been. To be in that kind of pain where she could not see her husband and daughter’s love is unimaginable. I feel guilty for being angry with her when she was in so much pain. I find myself waffling between anger, empathy, and sorrow for her that I wonder if I will ever be able to think of her without a broken heart.

Every day create your history
Every path you take you're leaving your legacy
Every soldier dies in his glory
Every legend tells of conquest and liberty

My feelings for Michael Jackson have never really waffled. I enjoyed his music when I was younger, but—truth be told—in the battle of the family bands of the 70’s, I preferred the clean-cut but soulless Osmonds over the urban and funkified Jacksons. I enjoyed the Jackson’s music—but I had a crush on Donny.

I loved Off The Wall, but never bought it. I finally bought Thriller after the fourth number one was released. I became a big fan of Michael’s music, but I was never really a fan of Michael Jackson the person as he never rang true for me. Dating Brooke Shields while carrying Bubbles the Chimp caused warning bells to go off in my head while the rest of the world tried to Moondance. His behavior became more erratic and Michael became less about the music and more about being a bizarre spectacle. Whenever there was a discussion of his behavior, we had to be reminded he was talented.

Beat me
Hate me
You could never
Break me
Will me
Thrill me
You could never
Kill me
Do me
Sue me
Do me
Kick me
Hike me
Don't you
Black or white me

When I heard he was ill yesterday, my first thought was Michael was trying to get out of his tour in the most spectacular fashion he could devise. I was as shocked as the rest of the world about his passing. I was less a fan than ever, but he just seemed too famous to die. At least too famous to share his passing with another pop-culture celebrity.

I wondered to myself if I could ever hear his music and not think of the tragedy that was his life and early death. As I walked to the train station I turned on my iPod and searched for a Michael Jackson song, to my surprise there were four of his tunes. As the drums pumped through my earbuds at the opening of The Way You Make Me Feel, I immediately burst into a smile and started to tear up. In an instant it was just about the music and nothing else—everything else faded away.

Just promise baby, you'll love me forevermore
I swear I'm keepin' you satisfied
'Cause you're the one for me

Michael, Farrah and my friend are gone. Three lives ending far too soon. All that’s left are the memories and how they effected the lives of so many. I guess we each have to decide how we’re going to remember them. The good, the bad, or some mix of each. I’ve decided to remember them and smile.

Help me sing it, ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa

Lyrics by Michael Jackson:
She's Out of My Life

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
They Don’t Care About Us

The Way You Make Me Feel
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’


JPRESTI said...

Melanie lost a friend to suicide last week too. Weird.

JPRESTI said...


Nice piece. (I hadn't had time to read it before)

Valerie Fenwick said...

well, put, Chris. I am sorry for your loss. I have a bunch of MJ albums. Loved his music, but had been feeling sorry for him in the last few years. Sometimes folks really need an honest person around them to set their course straight. To say, "dude, that's not normal, that's not okay." I see so many celebs who don't get that, and it's sad.

This was a well written piece. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Chris, sorry to hear about your friend. Odd--I just had a co-worker tell me a friend of hers committed suicide last week. Lots of pain there. And don't beat yourself up over how you should feel or shouldn't feel about this--however you feel IS how you should feel.

Michele said...

Hi Chris. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. I think suicide is a tremendously difficult event to deal with, so it's not surprising that you are having such conflicting feelings. I can't imagine how her husband (and her daughter, eventually...) will manage to process what has happened. It's so terrible to think about.

I really agree with Valerie's comment---MJ needed people in his life who had the courage to say "whoa."

Great post.

Adam G said...

wow. you always blow me away, hugz Adam