Incredulous shock at first. The headlines and images flickering over the wealth of modern day media look and feel like a bad joke, like an ill-conceived mockery: Michael Jackson dies, Thursday June 25th 2009, 2.26 pm at UCLA Medical Center. What? I crank up the volume on my TV set, locate news websites in my browser window at the same time, feeling petrified, paralyzed, in a daze of horror. But there it is, over and over again: Michael Jackson pronounced dead after having suffered cardiac arrest. I don’t believe it!
Shock is being followed by genuine grief on the second day. I can’t help but think of his miserable childhood, the trauma-stricken atmosphere he must have felt day in, day out, with a violent father treating his own kids rather like workforce than fragile beings who need to be nurtured in finding their way into this world. Horrifying! I actually break into tears here and there from feeling his pain. How much pressure he endured! How much pain he must have swallowed soundlessly, how much fear he must have banked somewhere inside of him… I can barely wrap my mind around the tragedy that his early (and later…) life must have born! I feel so endlessly sorry for him! Yet somehow, he manages to keep the demons in check and gradually transform them into that light which fans and peers from all walks of life loved him for. What an amazing, unparalleled, role-model-defining accomplishment on his part! And he carries on spreading that light, conveying his message of changing the world by looking at that Man in the Mirror and Heal[ing] the World from within. The only historic (? some even debate that…) figure I can think of, who has sent a comparably powerful message, would be Jesus Christ, seriously.
For the following two days I can’t help but being glued to the TV and computer screen, monitoring media coverage almost 24/7, almost reminiscent of Lady Diana’s tragic accident in 1997 (I was on my honeymoon through California then, which cast an awkward light on the latter for a couple of days…). The more coverage I absorb (which b.t.w. may be my way of coping with what we’re witnessing), the more my anger grows: Something regarding the circumstances of his death stinks. I mean, c’mon: MJ’s personal physician Dr. Murray is with him prior to and at the time of his passing and can’t think of anything better to save the King of Pop but regular CPR? How about rushing him to the hospital with a helicopter and looking for an antidot to that mysterious Demerol injection he gave Michael Jackson the night before? Why does he work on the pop star for an entirety of 45 minutes instead of calling an ambulance right away? About that ambulance: Anyone ever having been to or living in L.A. will be very familiar with traffic conditions there. During the day, it’s more stop than go, especially in the area where MJ’s last mansion is located.They say, he lived five minutes away from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, but during mid-day I’m pretty sure it must have taken them at least another 10 to 15 minutes until they arrived – too much valuable time being lost on the way! And according to this TIME article, medical experts are being quoted “Typically, […], there is only a four- to six-minute window of opportunity to revive a patient in cardiac arrest; the chances of survival drop 7% to 10% with each minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation.”
So by now, the King of Pop’s brain has been without oxygen for over an hour… If they had ever been able to recuscitate him, his brain would have suffered irreversible dammage, doubtlessly at a degree, which would have kept him from ever being the performer again that he was. Admitted: I’m not a medical person or expert on the subject, but I believe to have enough knowledge from second hand experience and reading into it to know THAT.
Anyway: He’s at UCLA now, but his personal physician is not at his side to aid other doctors in finding the right treatment for Michael Jackson…? Odd, to say the least. However, medical staff at UCLA keep working on the star for well over another hour until they finally have to give in to the sad realization that they weren’t able to bring him back. What a desaster!
The rest is familiar with everyone, who have been following the headlines over the past few days: A press conference is quickly scheduled, through which Jermaine Jackson confirms the utterly sad news to the world, police start investigating the circumstances, the old news making machinery is in full swing. Interviews, close family, friends and former professional companions speaking out, expressing their concerns over Michael’s reported painkiller addicition and drug abuse, his former wives – most notably Lisa-Marie Presley – making statements about his passing etc.etc.
All of the latter is beginning to feel surreal to me like never before. It all feels so premeditated, almost like a bizarre play of some kind – the staging is so overly perfect… I keep oscillating between shock, grief and anger for the entire weekend. This is how the biggest pop star ever ends? This is supposed to be the end of an era that inspired generations of fans and artists? This is how fame, fortune and a personal tragedy beyond words play out? It just doesn’t feel right, no matter from which angle I look upon this.
But at the end of the day, I have to call myself to reason: I am quite sure, the world will be fed some kind of ‘official’ statement on the circumstances of MJ’s untimely passing and most likely, everyone will have their own truth on what exactly happened. Bottomline: We’ll never know. So, on the verge of the third day after Thursday’s shocking news, I deliberately tell myself to move away from dwelling over the why and how and look at the incomparable wealth of a legacy that this genius has left. And on day three another realization makes its way into my heart: Michael Jackson DID indeed heal the world by setting an unparalleled example. He graciously and unselfishly served us by sharing his wealth of talents with uncompromised dedication, self-discpline and total committment.
The one headline that gives me relief is this. So he was happy and at peace in his final hours of his time on earth. Rest in peace, Michael. I never knew I’d miss you that much until today.