I will forever be counting backwards from June 25, 2009. The day the world stopped rotating, when millions of people in every country on this planet stopped in their tracks and just stood still in shock. The day the void was felt around the world as the shining, bright light of Michael Jackson was snuffed out, ripped from this earth, Gone Too Soon.
Soon it will be Feb. 25. Exactly 20 months since Michael Jackson died, the anniversary day when my life changed forever, along with legions of fans around the world who believed their Peter Pan, King of Pop would live forever. I ask God all the time “Am I over Michael’s death? Am I done grieving now, Lord?” My answer comes with tears that flow, but thankfully it has gotten better. I know there are many people who personally knew Michael who grieve deeply still and may not ever be over loosing their dear, beloved friend. I can’t imagine their pain and heartache. I wondered many times why I have felt so deeply the loss of Michael, a man I had never met. Yet I know there are millions of Michael Jackson fans around the world who feel as I do. I talk to them daily on the internet. I am not alone.
There are so many beautiful people I have met since Michael’s death that I would simply not have ever met otherwise… they have greatly enriched my life. Sadly with no ill intent or desire to hurt anyone’s feelings I must say I would give up those friendships in a nano-second to have Michael Jackson back in this world again. The reality most have reluctantly come to is 'acceptance' since June 25th, 2009, acceptance that Michael is gone forever. It has been a process, the whole world grieving together. We still do research via the internet looking for anything new, holding on to anything we can about Michael Jackson, especially meaningful for me are new, true stories or articles and interviews. We are very excited when someone who was blessed to spend close personal time with MJ, like Dave Nordahl or Patrick Treacy, share about their personal accounts of time with Michael. Those stories are particularly precious to me.
Michael’s creative energy and genius will be forever memorialized in videos, books and music. Everywhere are traces of MJ in this world for all time. To those who love him those touches from Michael are unmistakably EVERY WHERE you look and listen. Wonderful reminders of how he has touched, changed, inspired and encouraged people every where. I wish so much that these things would have been more openly shared when he was alive so he could have seen and appreciated how much he was loved and admired while he walked this earth. That being said I believe he is in heaven, looking down, seeing all the LOVE.
Magical things have happened at Forest Lawn, Holly Terrace in the last 20 months. Too many to list them but I will touch here on only a few. One day on a visit to Holly Terrace my friend, Robyn, looked up into the sky to see Michael's toes pose crafted in the clouds at sunset. It was dusk, Michael's favorite time of the day. After a few double takes, the consensus was, quite unmistakably, YES! God had Michael’s famous feet on display directly over Holly Terrace. It is just SO like Michael to continue to entertain his fans in magnificent and imaginative ways.
I visit Forest Lawn’s Holly Terrace on a regular basis. I love to hear the different languages at Holly Terrace from visiting fans from all over the world. Although there have been a few special, quiet, reflective visits; I have rarely ever visited when no one else was present sharing their love for Michael, tears, hugs and heartache. At times the grief is palpable and paradoxically at the same time there is so much LOVE and joy. Michael Jackson went through living hell on this earth but paradoxically he was filled with immense portions of God’s LOVE. I believe it was that grace of God’s love that carried Michael through many hellish attacks. Michael’s good friend Michael Bush, his designer and friend for over 35 years once shared with me as a fan attending the MJ Autry exhibit, "Yes Michael glowed. He glowed. He could light up a room, a stage, an arena. You could be standing in a room alone and with no sound, he would enter and the feeling in the room would change. You could just feel him. You could have your back to him and you knew he was there with no words. He lit up the room." That glow was the LOVE of God in Michael. Every day he read the Bible. Every day he prayed. Michael turned to God as his source and continues to inspire me to do the same.
Today at Holly Terrace you can still feel that LOVE on occasion… the L.O.V.E. MJ talked of, the special love that filled Michael in massive portions and enabled Michael to glow. It is as if the Lord left a bit of Michael’s shining LOVE to fill the area and bless all who visit there, all who have come to honor His chosen one.
I am remembering back to a very special time, a particular day when the MJ fans, about 30 of us at the time, visited Holly Terrace together. That spirit of LOVE that filled MJ came down from heaven so heavily on that special day and very special visit. The breath of LOVE was so thick in the air it felt as though you could cut it with a knife. I felt it meld around me like a warm flowing blanket. Then like a living breathing being it moved and covered those around me. I remember turning to others and asking, “Do you feel that? Do you FEEL the LOVE?” and wondering if they would think I had lost my mind completely. Their faces still shine in my memory smiling back at me, glowing and nodding their heads and saying “Yes, Betty, I feel it too.” We were all glowing that day. I literally reached out into the thickness to grasp at air to try to touch it still saying, “Can you feel that? Can you feel the LOVE?” The spirit of LOVE descended out of heaven and I watched as each person perked up and settled down all at the same time, there was a massive joint effort to console, comfort and reassure others that they were loved and accepted. So many present seemed to be filled with that un-matchless peace that only God’s LOVE can bring. Tears always flow at Holly Terrace but this was a much different day. As it grew dark and we were forced to leave as the park closed, I reluctantly pulled myself away. I was floating on a cloud of MJ LOVE. We all shared meaningful and caring hugs and cried tears of joy that day. We all mourned together but that day the bright light of joy, happiness and LOVE that Michael shared in this dark world touched us all. A very tangible feeling of LOVE which I wore all the way home. The most luxurious, comforting feeling so uplifting and penetrating it lasted for days. That experience is one I will never forget and will treasure forever. I will also hold those who experienced that day with me in my heart For All Time. Some have become so very special to me, and are etched forever in my heart, I love them dearly. Only God could make that day happen. Only God could share such a gift of LOVE that way to confirm to us that Michael Jackson was a chosen child in his kingdom from the beginning of time, that God LOVES the King of Pop, has him close by His side where no one can ever hurt him again. Yet also knows and acknowledges our broken hearts, our need for healing.
Then several months ago at the end of summer, I received a special invitation to go inside Holly Terrace. I was able to walk the halls openly. Visit Michael up close. It is a very beautiful place inside. The “Ascension” windows are gorgeous. There are many sculptures of children through out the halls which I am certain Michael would have loved, but sadly not one of those sculptures is near Michael’s crypt. Although they can be easily purchased and placed anywhere you specify. Not far, only just down the hall from Michael’s beautiful marble crypt at the Ascension windows is a beautiful stained glass “Christmas” window designed for Dr. Eaton, the founder of Forest Lawn, who like MJ also loved children very much. The window depicts children celebrating on Christmas morning and immediately reminded me of Michael and his children and how very much they loved Christmas.
I took my personal moments at the crypt with Michael and paid my respects and said a few words I had wanted to share with Michael for a very long time, while touching the marble Bible that stands open in front of the gates where he lays just under the floor. There are large bronze wall urns on each side of the crypt which were filled with beautiful fresh flowers and many more large and small floral bouquets were placed inside the gated area at the base of the crypt. I was astonished to learn as I drank in the scene, and this was several months ago; there was something very important missing here. There was no identifying plaque or name of any kind on Michael’s crypt. There are name placards everywhere throughout the mausoleum but the most famous man who ever lived on this earth has “No Name” on his crypt. Now here it is 20 months since Michael’s death and still Michael’s crypt has no name.
The fans can peer through the tinted glass in the door, cupping their hands just right when the sun hits the Ascension windows at just the right time of day you can see to the end of the long hall and glimpse where Michael lays. No one is allowed in unless invited and approved by security. I respect that. Forest Lawn and the family have their rules. We still go and pay our respects to Michael from outside, meet one another and share our friendship and LOVE for Michael. We are still blessed on our visits to Holly Terrace but Michael deserves MORE! Why is there no place for fans to honor Michael openly, freely? Why hasn’t Michael at the very least received a plaque with his name?
All this came rushing home for me when my friend sent me a beautiful poem. She was pouring out her heart of feeling like a wandering, lost soul searching for her King, her beloved Michael. I have posted her poem with her permission below at the end of my blog. Please take time to read it. It is lovely.
Also my son’s beautiful girlfriend, Megan, traveled to New York City and shared her pictures with me of John Lennon’s “Imagine” Memorial in Central Park, which even more so planted the feeling that Michael needs MORE! Deserves MORE! The fans cry out for a place where they can go and honor their King publicly.
In New York City‘s Central Park across the street from the Dakota apartment building where John Lennon was assassinated on Dec. 8, 1980 there is a simple, circular, black and white tile, mosaic memorial and at the center the word “Imagine”. One simply can not read that word and not think of John Lennon. Hundreds of fans visit daily from around the world and freely leave flowers or tokens of love and respect for John Lennon.
Then surprisingly in Havana, Cuba, where his music was once banned, John Lennon was celebrated as a hero and immortalized in bronze by Fidel Castro, who in his later years considered Lennon a "fellow dreamer" and personally unveiled the statue in 2000 along with a tribute concert to John Lennon.
Then of course there is Elvis’ Memorial at Graceland which most certainly pays great homage to him. In thinking about Graceland and how beautifully they honor Elvis and allow the fans access to visit and leave flowers and tokens of love for him in beautiful ways that all can openly see, it certainly gave root to the feeling that having Michael back home at Neverland, with it fully restored to the glory days when MJ was happiest there with his children would be a wonderful thing indeed.
Jimmy Hendrix too has a beautiful memorial at Greenwood Memorial Park in
Renton, WA, his home town, which honors his creativity and a heart searching for love. It stands as a wonderful testament to the artistic talent God gave him. His own portrait and signature forever engraved on his tomb.
These wonderful entertainers who died tragic deaths are freely and openly honored. Fans visit and show their love and respect from all over the world. Yet for the most famous, the biggest entertainer in the world, the one who owned “The Catalog”, the one who continues to bring in BILLIONS of dollars for Sony and the Estate there is no fan access to his grave and STILL NO NAME plaque honoring Michael Jackson.
MJ’s unreleased 2009 Song “A Place Without No Name “
To me this double negative actually means ‘Take me to a place WITH a name!’ Could this have been prophetic? When it comes to MJ it is highly possible.
~ LOST Army of LOVE ~
We have no place to say goodbye
We have no place to stand and cry
We try to find a place close to your heart
To try and understand why you had to part
We write notes, burn candles and flowers we bring
We try to stay close to you, as we watch you dance and sing
We have lost a part of us and can’t believe you are not here
For all the photos and memories of you, we still hold dear
It's just so hard we have no place to grieve
But you are everywhere or so we believe
We go to Forest Lawn, Carolwood, Hayvenhurst
and Neverland just so we can see your face
But we are lost and have no tangible place
We are very sad, your Lost Army of L.O.V.E
We still try to find you in the moon and stars above
We listen to the wind, see the flowers and butterflies
And hope your spirit and soul did one night rise
We hope you are at peace and rest in your eternal sleep
Michael you were our gift so in our hearts safe we will always keep...
We have no place to say goodbye
We have no place to stand and cry
© Copyright Robyn Starkand July 9, 2010
UPDATE (Dec. 31, 2013):
Since first writing this story only 20 months since Michael leaving this world... I've made peace with the fact that Michael is laid to rest in the most appropriate place... fit for a King. The subject of the name on his tomb is a private matter for Mrs. Katherine Jackson and the children to deal with. I've no idea their reasoning, whether it is religious or personal but it's not for me to say. One day it is my hope that the fans are able to purchase a marble statue of children playing and place it near Michael's beautiful marble resting place. It would be so appropriate.