I have followed Michael Jackson for 40 years, I cannot remember a time when he was not in my life. His music has brought out every emotion in me, his performances have thrilled me and his humanitarianism has inspired me. On the 25th June, I felt a part of my life had ended. No longer could I dream that I would one day meet my idol and have the opportunity to thank him for bringing so much joy into my life. So on 13th July, with mixed emotions I went to the O2 to pay tribute to Michael Jackson.
When I arrived, I could see a giant screen where images of Michael were being displayed. On either side were memorial boards for fans to write their personal messages to Michael. Under the screen and memorial boards were tributes, flowers, messages, posters, candles and gifts that fans had left for him. The atmosphere was light, the crowd singing hits like ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Thriller’ and ‘We Are The World’. I approached the memorial board and wrote my message to Michael and left a deep pink rose on the railings. As I stood and read the hundreds of messages and tributes, I felt a surge of emotion. Tonight would have been Michael’s opening night … his long awaited come back, like thousands of others, I’d had tickets for months. I couldn’t believe I was standing there under these circumstances. All around me I could hear the crowd singing and celebrating Michael’s life, but I wasn’t ready for that…the pain, still too raw. It was all very surreal.
I went into the O2 and the arena area was in darkness. I couldn’t help but imagine what the scene would have been like had Michael been there.
Back outside, I could see crowds of people of all ages, children with their parents, teenagers, many dressed as Michael and the stunning MJ lookalikes. The crowd had split into some smaller groups: one was having a Michael Jackson ‘dance off’, one was crowded around a CD player playing Michael’s music. At 6.30 p.m., when the doors to the O2 arena would have opened, we held a minute’s silence. By this time the crowd had grown to over a thousand strong and more and more were arriving.
The evening continued to be a mixture of singing, sharing memories, candle lit vigils, writing personal messages and tributes all in celebration of Michael. Fans were handing out memorial wristbands. I saw t-shirts from every MJ era including ‘Bad’ ‘Dangerous’ and ‘HIStory’ tours. Flags, banners and posters were held aloft. I saw fans filled with emotion: singing, dancing, chatting, laughing and crying. Some were just taking it all in, having a moment deep in thought, recalling memories of past concerts and thinking what might have been.
For me, like lots of others, we just needed to be there. It was somewhere to go to show respect for the ultimate entertainer, this wonderful humanitarian and above all else the gentle man who was Michael Jackson: the father, the son, the brother and the friend.
Michael, you are the brightest star in the sky tonight – fly high, shine bright, for all eternity.
My final thoughts are with Paris, Michael, Blanket and all of the Jackson family. x