Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest yesterday.
This shocked me. He was 50. He would have turned 51 in August.
This man, this boy, I'm almost at a loss for words.
He was not one of my favorites, but I did admire his talent. He was bigger than life, he created that image for himself, and he created, in my humble opinion, all of the bad press he got, too.
I don't know if he really did all of the terrible things that hit the newspapers, but I can say I did sympathize with him, to a degree.
I went to college at age 16-1/2, after my junior year in high school. It was a Freshman Honors Program at the University of Delaware, and the group of us, 133 in all (I think) were housed on the campus of Wesley College, a small nursing college in Dover, DE. We were a group of strange children, some of us very bright, some of us bright enough, some of us struggling to find out who we were, some of us convinced we were "different." Some of us were on the straight and narrow path, some strayed and experimented with drugs and alcohol. Some of us tried suicide, some of us quit the program, some of us stayed and succeeded and moved through the rest of our college years.
I liken us to the kids in The Breakfast Club, a small group of misfits, all of us very different, each in their own way. And we had to learn, about ourselves, about each other, about life.
Michael Jackson reminded me almost of an amalgamation of a bunch of my classmates. You could describe him as shy, retiring, reclusive, smart, bright, a genius, talented, kind-hearted, big-hearted, generous, easy to take advantage of, unaware of the real world, protected, sheltered...
I don't know if I believe he did those horrible things; I wouldn't be surprised to find that he just didn't think things could be misinterpreted, that his intentions were not criminal or sick, that he just had a big heart and couldn't say no to children.
I could be wrong: he could have been all of those terrible things of which he was accused.
I just don't know.
I do know that he was very talented, whether I personally liked his style or not, and there's just no one around to take his place. I did like some of his work, and always admired his abilities.
If it turns out he was abusing drugs, with or without the enabling of his family and friends and medical staff, well then, I'm sorry for that. Ultimately it's always our own responsibility. But that won't take away from his legacy.