by Harriette J. Schwartz
(Tarzana CA)

June 28, 2009 By Harriette J. Schwartz

It really all comes down to two words--left behind. The words just seem to have a negative feel to them, don’t they? None of us want to be left behind, let alone suddenly, feeling as though someone pulled the carpet out from under us. So we disbelieve; we weedle with the departing spirit to stay with us by paying homage to its achievements. We do this in grief, and in love and in respect for all those we lose, but those to whom we did not say goodbye are the hardest to let go of.

I remember when Princess Diana died, all around the world physical tributes poured in. Flowers, cards, notes, stuffed animals, you name it were affixed and adorned outside her home, and at any place she may have lived, spent time or visited. It gave all those people who cared a proximity to a woman they probably never had in Diana’s lifetime. It also gave all those adoring fan masses left behind a way to hold onto her fleeting spirit and to reach out to her two young sons. All any of them would have now are cherished memories for she was gone. There was so much love outpouring from everywhere but still all over the world a universal sadness prevailed.

We all knew of Ed McMahon’s illnesses and financial woes, things that at any age can and do take their toll. With Farah, we knew she was bravely fighting a terrible uphill battle which it was not likely she would win, bless her heart. These were neither of them sudden, though a terrible and a tragic loss each one was. The tributes are long and wonderful for both of them. I am so glad we have dvds.

Its just that Michael Jackson, the King of Pop as he was known was ripped from us and we are still not sure what exactly happened. The sudden loss of a man known worldwide for so many different reasons is a total enigma. As the reports began to point to death, so did the crowds begin to form. At first, it was just outside of ULCA where MJ was taken and pronounced dead. Then it was everywhere connected with him out here in California and around the world. Cars riding down the street blasted his music, no channel on my television did not have his photo and every internet site is the same. From the Apollo Theatre in Harlem and around the world to the Jackson Family home in Encino, singing and celebration; laughter and tears.

I run a social network for baby boomers and we have a group called The Music Box. We are all Youtubing MJ and Jackson Five memories and enjoying out loud. No longer a part of life, Michael is now dancing into the realm of Diana, Marilyn, James Dean and so many others whose lights went out curiously young or just plain curiously.

Like many others, I remember the young Michael Jackson of the Jackson Five because I was around when they hit the big time. I loved seeing them on The Ed Sullivan Show or Dick Clark. Michael always stole the stage out from under his brothers. They knew it and they loved it. This was his role in life and he played it like a master.

Michael Jackson unfortunately evolved into a very shy and eccentric man with legal woes you would not wish on your worst enemy. Who knows what is and what is not the truth? Color me ignorant but I would think that any young child involved enough with MJ to be sleeping in his home has to have the “blessings” of their parents, wouldn’t you think? Was all that really just about money? Will we ever really know? Frankly Scarlett…who really cares? He is gone and in the end what counts is Michael Jackson was an incredible talent. Fortunately his musical legacy we will always have.

When the phenomenon of a sudden loss occurs we tend to freak out and to dig in, in a fog of disbelief. When we stop shaking our heads and muttering “no”, we begin to hang on tightly to the memories, note by note and line by line. We are still keeping a vigil in the the tiniest false hope that perhaps it’s a mistake of some kind, though we emphatically know different. I believe it is what we all do to make both our transition and our lost pallies transitions a little easier. Witness the BET Awards which will actually air tonight. All the acts and production are being changed at the last minute to honor Michael Jackson. They too want to make the journey better for him.

Nobody does well with the phenomenon of a sudden loss. It hits everyone with an equally hard punch to the solar plexus and it is awfully hard to breathe at first. But the next gasp of air comes and we go forward, albeit minus our loss. We remember calmly that there is a place where those who have left us dwell peacefully now, though we are not really ready to be privy to it just yet. On that level, I am okay with being left behind and it does not sound so negative as I first thought.

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