The news broke of Michael’s death and I remembered. It was a bright spot in an otherwise dark time. It was the year that I transitioned from nine to the rounded age of ten, two digits…
I was in St. Matthews, South Carolina, staying with relatives. I had heard my mother speak of the word most of us are now well aquatinted with: foreclosure.
Foreclosure, whoever he was made my mother make the choice that would break the bonds of childhood far before I was ready to loosen my grasp. From day one, I knew this was not to be the South Carolina that greeted me in my mother’s presence. My sister took my brother and I there, delivered like junk mail and dropped there into the arms of uncertainty.
From the moment that my older sister left, the air went out. I never imagined myself in a bag, and that someone could be exhausting the air. Wow.
What was supposed to be the pinnacle of my childhood ripped away trust. For one year, eight months, three weeks, and two days, my childhood was crushed under the foot of incest. The violation of night ripped into the daily existence of screams that went unheard, and fell on the eyes of closed lids. No one heard the violation contained behind a bathroom door in a 3 bedroom ranch house on Tucker Mill Circle. Everything was a blur then. I don’t remember much. There were few joys.
1.The burning of the garbage: We knew burning of the trash would give the heat we needed
to make Peppermint Scented Mud Pies. It was the last little bit of childhood I had.
2. Motown 25: Everyone waited that night. Every other performance meant nothing. We, my
extended family and I. My cousins, my aunts, my molesters – all of us. The noise stopped. The
air was still. Michael took us to another planet. It must have been the moon, because that was
the first time he moon walked while he was singing Billie Jean. I knew then and there I would be
a performer. I was gonna sing too. People were gonna love me too.
The tears fell down my face. It was the only night in which the violation stopped. For that night only, Michael saved me from them, from my male cousin molesters and many nights thereafter from myself. Music & Me and Ben reverberated in my ear drums as I listened to Michael’s child hood falsetto under the house on a old school tape recorder. Whenever his voice streamed into the space around me, the air would return for the duration of the song. It didn’t matter what he was singing, whether it was him arguing with Paul McCartney over who I really belonged to, or whether he was convincing the world to drink Pepsi with his brothers during the Victory tour. He kept me sane. His songs didn’t keep me from going on long journeys inside of myself, but they definitely kept me from staying gone. They stopped me from going inside and locking the door. Michael Jackson put the key up for safe keeping.
The return from South Carolina resulted in me never returning to the place of my violation, but Michael was a constant companion. Everyone idolized him. I had it all, the jackets (Beat It & Thriller), my socks and glove with the silver and white threads to make them look as though they were rhinestones. Everyone wanted a piece of Michael.
I didn’t believe it. Text messages flew in from everywhere, proclaiming Michael’s demise. The tears filled up in the wells of my eyes and streamed down my face. Besides the incredible sense of loss I felt, I also felt like the others. The others are the people who kept taking from him and never gave. I felt so guilty. I took my sanity in him and he was so tormented. By his father, his face, his fears. He walked a road searching for a childhood that he was never allowed to have.
I walked to 125th Street and sang every Michael song that fell on the lips of his fans. I stayed out there until 3 am, but even that didn’t seem enough for the give back.
When they called him a child molester, I thought to myself: how could they call him a molester, when he kept me sane as a child being molested? What a toll it took on you Michael. For that, I am deeply sorry.
The bible says we gotta come to God like a child, and I know God was there to greet you. I know it. No one was more child-like, loving and as pure in his spirit as you. All that genius that lived in you; All of God’s answers to and for the world weaved beautifully into your songs. Thank you Michael. You beautiful, gifted, tormented instrument of God’s peace. For everything you were, for everything you became, thank you.
You saved me. When others stole my trust, you returned it, beautifully wrapped in your songs…
As you once told me when I was a ten year old woman…you Michael are not alone…