Last night, Michael Jackson videos played on almost every channel – well, many of them anyway. If it wasn’t his videos or his Super Bowl appearance, it was a journalist looking at the camera sadly, telling us Jackson is dead.
I had to beg Michael (my Michael) to stay on them; he could only take so much. If I’d had the remote though, I never would have turned. I felt like I was sharing a moment, albeit a sad one, with the world.
It’s unfair that our friends and spouses and grandfathers and baby nieces die every day without nearly enough people memorializing their contribution to the earth. Although Jackson was more visible, you’d be hard pressed to prove to me that his life actually mattered more than any of the others. But when the world gets caught up in a moment like this, I am more than willing to be swept up right along with them.
Did you ever see the Blossom episode where her boyfriend dumped her? She was very sad, tragically so – at least her dad and brothers thought she was. Yet she didn’t cry. Finally they made her watch The Way We Were. She watched the whole thing quietly, stoically. And when the credits rolled, she collapsed on her father and cried and cried and cried. They all took turns holding her. While she cried. I’ll never forget that scene.
That’s one way to look at moments like this. Much of the world has at least noticed Michael Jackson’s death. Many are in true, intense mourning for it. And perhaps when we embrace that – just go with it in a way, if we can find any reason to care at all – then all that grieving can make up for all the losses in our own lives that simply weren’t noticed enough.
Don’t think of it as just another channel playing Thriller. Think of it as the whole world validating how simply awful death is, how completely unfair, how sad, and how for every person, their contributions shine the most, and their death is almost always too soon.