On July 7, 2009, the most heart wrenching, poignant image seen on television was when Paris Katherine Jackson, eleven-year-old daughter of the late music icon Michael Joseph Jackson, took center stage surrounded by her uncles, aunts, and two brothers, spoke publicly about her Dad. She professed her admiration and love for her late father. As she uttered those words, “I love him so much” followed by a soft weep as she turned to the arms of her loving Aunt Janet. The emotional scene took my breath away. I completely lost it.
This little girl’s cries were heard around the globe. It was a true-to-life scene, unrehearsed and performed innocently by a grieving child. Her image was forever embedded into my mind. As I turned to my Mom and cousin and friends, there were no dry eyes. We all reached for a Kleenex to wipe our tears.
I do feel her pain and anguish deep down to my very core. Why? I underwent the same painful experience when I was ten years old. In 2001, I lost my beloved dad and brother in one horrific event that occurred on 9/11.
I do remember clearly, during our memorial services, we do not have the remains. They were never found in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
As I watched little Paris and her two brothers, I can’t help but think that children are often times forgotten during the grieving process. Adults are so into their hurt that the last thing they will think about is, how do the children felt about the loss? I do remember. No one asked me how I was coping. All our relatives were consoling my Mom and just gave me hugs but never asked what they could do for me. Of course, at age ten, I really do not know how to sort out my feelings but one thing I remember was that my chest was painful, and I was missing my Dad and brother so terribly.
During the days and months following 9/11, with all our visiting relatives and friends, the last thing that I did is to ask for attention. I would be there welcoming everyone to our home but I never craved to be the center of attention. I would help my grandma served drinks to the visitors and avoided all incidents to be interviewed.
My Mom was so broken up that she was rushed to the hospital. That incident added to my fears that I am bound to lose every member of my family. I was in pain, anguish, and grief all rolled into a big heavy toll on my young shoulder. I kept it all to myself.
Unlike Paris Katherine Jackson who was surrounded by loving uncles and aunts, I was alone. My only brother was also killed.
However, Paris who was previously seen in public with veils or feathered masks on, suddenly appeared into this beautiful child with long flowing hair and expressive eyes. The circumstances of her public debut minus veils or masks was so surprising in that this is a brilliant, articulate child who also wants to tell the world that her Dad is the “BEST FATHER” there is.
The testimony that this innocent child professed to the whole world only proves that beyond all those barraged of tongue-wagging critics, Michael Jackson raised beautiful, brilliant children as a single parent. That is a big accomplishment.
Michael waited until his three children are old enough before embarking on a big comeback to resurrect his claim as King of Pop. But of course, that was his last rehearsals at the Staple’s Center.
As Reverend Al Sharpton, addressed Michael Jackson’s three children, “There is nothing strange about your Daddy, it is strange what he has to deal with.” A strong statement that evokes standing ovation from 20,000 grieving fans present during the Memorial.
As Michael Jackson was finally laid to rest, we are reminded that this man is also human like any of us. He had his share of coming from extreme poverty—the need to work at a very early age to help support the family in their one bedroom home in Gary, Indiana. His meteoric rise to fame and fortune was unbelievable. As he wrote most of his music, one could hardly miss the pain that this man has deep within. His favorite song written by Charlie Chaplain says it all; “Smile even though it’s hurting. What’s the use of crying? You’ll find that life is still worthwhile if you just smile.”As I close, let me quote one line from his haunting song, “Will You Be There?”
In my pain and trials, will you be there?