Sunday, April 17, 2011

Carolwood Drive - No Excuse Good Enough

I feel compelled to share a story I wrote for MJ-Upbeat on May 19, 2009
This was an honest heartfelt time, a night I will never forget,
visiting a place I never wanted to visit.

As the trial nears I've been thinking often of this night... 
and just as I deeply and strongly felt that night...
STILL there is No Excuse Good Enough.
Nothing the defense comes up with, nothing Conrad Murray says...
NOTHING... absolutely NOTHING will ever be good enough to justify 
what was done to Michael Jackson on June 25th, 2009. 
Beyond that at the root of it there will never be an excuse good enough
for the torment inflicted upon Michael over his lifetime.
Michael Jackson should still be here on this earth, should still be alive.
God will have the final say... no matter what the out come in court.
ALL of those responsible for the death of Michael Jackson 
will be judged by God who sees all, knows all and 
has not missed a single detail of all that was done to Michael Jackson.
ALL those responsible for Michael Jackson's death will have to answer to God
for what they have done. I just pray it is in my life time. 

Carolwood Drive
May 19, 2009
By Betty Byrnes

I vowed not to visit there, just could not bear going there.
Finally I had decided I could visit on June 25th 
but only at the hour Michael actually died. 
Not when Conrad Murray said he died or when the 
hospital announced his time of death. 
Those were lies and I felt I needed to mark the anniversary 
of Michael Jackson’s death with truth… the true time he died, 
by going to the place of Michael’s death.

We had all spent the day at the MJ Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
promoting JUSTICE for MJ. 
It was an amazing day and we were going to go out for BBQ;
however a couple of the fans wanted to visit the mansion at
Carolwood Drive in Beverly Hills first.
This was Michael’s last place of residence where his life was taken far too soon.
I decided to pass and told them,
“No! No! I simply can’t.  I can’t bring myself to go there yet.” 
It was explained to me that it would be better to go as a group, 
because you need that love around you when you visit for the first time
which made perfect sense so with some hesitation I acquiesced. 
It wasn’t long before the group of thirteen fans caravaned 
from Hollywood Blvd. to Carolwood.

There is a car parked in the under ground garage yet the house is vacant now.
I wonder if it is Conrad Murray’s but then remember
seeing his car towed away from the house
 and thought at the time a year ago, “Good! Get that man and
everything he owns far, far away from there.”

I am shown the candle wax all along the curb and in the street from the
fan memorials that were placed there when MJ died and again on his birthday,
all items long since taken away but the tell tale signs of the fan’s adoration remains. 

There is a chill in the air. It is almost midnight.
Michael’s beautiful voice is heard softly serenading us from a car parked near by. 
He is singing “Invincible” and I think to myself,
“Oh God, how I wish he truly would have been Invincible.”
We walk down to look at his bedroom balcony and I picture him standing
there holding on to the railing just like in the
Black & White video as he stood on the torch of the Statue of Liberty.
I sense in my heart Michael calling for JUSTICE.

We all are quiet…Speechless.

Your love is magical that’s how I feel… but I have not the words here to explain.
Gone is the grace for expression of passion… 
but there are worlds and worlds of ways to explain to tell you how I feel… 
but I am speechless, speechless…
that’s how you make me feel. 

My tears begin to flow.  I am sobbing.  
It is unexplainable how this man whom I have never met has
pierced my heart so deeply.  I know I am not alone.  
I hear others muffled sobs.

We walk to the gate and I am looking at the entrance to 
MJ’s Carolwood that I have seen so many times on TV.  
I look down at the cobble stones that are so familiar yet 
I have never been there before.  As I look up at the massive gates,
suddenly a vast emptiness fills my heart.  
There is no reason why Michael Jackson should be gone from this world. 
He should still be here in this place where his children played 
and they ate dinner together and laughed and were a family, 
 where he sang and danced and they all ran in the yard 
and played with the family dog together.  
There is simply no explanation good enough. 
The weight of that emptiness makes it hard to stand.  
My knees are weak and I am shaking. 
I feel someone put their arm around my shoulder and I sob.  
We are ONE.  No words need be spoken here. 

One by one we silently placed our flowers on the gate.
I say a silent prayer for Truth and Justice for Michael Jackson
and his children and wonder are there enough prayers.
Please God hear our prayers. 

I am not sure how long we stood there looking at the gate 
where our flowers were carefully placed, 
but just like all days since Michael’s death… time stood still. 
It seemed like forever and yet passed so quickly. We moved in unison. 
Very few words being spoken. All of one mind, one heart, 
grieving for our lost Angel of LOVE. 
The man who touched the world with his voice, his dance, 
his LOVE from generation to generation, 
who never wanted anything but to bring 
LOVE and healing to mankind, children and this planet. 
A man who was chosen by God and was touched with 
grace, dignity, genius, beauty, music and creativity like no other before him. 
A man touched deeply with the gift and ability 
to share the deep life changing LOVE of God.

… But I am speechless, speechless that’s how you make me feel.
 Though I’m with you, I am far away and nothing is for real.
When I’m with you I am lost for words, I don’t know what to say.
My heads spinning like a carousel, so silently I pray. Helpless and hopeless,
that’s how I feel inside. Nothings real but all is possible if God is on my side…
When I’m with you I am in the light where I can not be found.
It’s as though I am standing in the place called Hallowed Ground…

Then as if in one accord we moved toward the gates,
sit down and lean our backs against them. Symbolic I suppose of
wanting to keep the evil away from our Angel, away from that house. 

Sadly it was the evil within we could not protect him from and that
ultimately took Michael Jackson from his family and the world.
There we sat in suspended time listening to Michael’s beautiful and
familiar voice sing to us from a nearby car…
”Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand.”
His unmistakable, irreplaceable voice echoing in the night air.
It was a night I will never forget and I am so blessed and grateful
that I was able to share this visit and my feelings in one accord
with these beautiful and caring friends.

… Speechless, speechless…that’s how you make me feel.
Though I’m with you I am far away and nothing is for real.
I’d go anywhere and do anything just to touch your face.
There’s no mountain high I can not climb. 
I’m humbled in your grace…

…Speechless, speechless…that’s how you make me feel.
Though I’m with you, I am lost for words and nothing is for real. 

Speechless, speechless…that’s how you make me feel.

You are always in my heart… Speechless

Your love is magical that’s how I feel…
but in your presence I am lost for words…

words like… like I LOVE YOU.

By Michael Jackson – Speechless - Invincible

Sunday, April 3, 2011

LOVE'S Invisible Work ♥♥♥

“Silently, from one person to another, LOVE kept
up its invisible work..."
~ Michael Jackson

I was moved to tears today and feeling so blessed to receive this Face Book post from my dear friend, Donna. As I read this post I felt that unmistakable nudge from the Lord I have come to know, to share about ‘our’ Michael Jackson experience, a journey of LOVE’s invisible thread in our lives. Today on Paris’ 13th birthday, almost two years after Michael’s death, Michael’s LOVE continues to weave hearts together.
 ~ Hi Betty, a year ago today I met you for the first time. It was also my first time to visit Michael at FL. It was a very emotional visit that day. A day of excitement, sadness and togetherness....being around people like me who LOVED Michael as much as we do. It was great talking to you and you had admired the flowers I brought Michael. I also had a little birthday gift for Paris. You were so kind to take the gift to Encino for me so that Paris would receive her necklace on her birthday. I'm feeling so blessed to have met you that day. And think back on all the "Michaeling" we've done together over the past year and I just smile. Thanks for being a true friend to me and so loyal to Michael and his legacy. ♥♥♥
~ Donna, I am so blessed to have met you and cherish your friendship. There are so many whose hearts and lives now intertwine with mine, so many friends who I will always hold dear to my heart because we were inexplicably bonded in our LOVE and grief over loosing Michael Jackson. There is an unspoken knowing as fans look into each others eyes and share their hearts, no words said. Immediate hugs, tears and LOVE for the most precious human being who the LORD chose as the vessel to spread LOVE, music and magic around this globe. Everything said in one glance, yet as soon as hearts are bonded in that glance of knowing LOVE, words spill uncontrollably in both joy and grief. I have experienced this with you and many others. After Michael’s death and before I met friends like you, Donna, I felt I could not fully breath. In sharing our grief it is like taking a new and different breath of life.

On that day, April 3, 2010 we met amongst a large group of MJ Southern California fans who were meeting at Forest Lawn to pay respects to Michael. I felt drawn back to you, Donna, knowing it was your first visit to Holly Terrace I felt the need to check to see if you were okay. Remembering my first visit to Holly Terrace to visit Michael I didn’t want you to feel alone. On my first visit I was alone and I was completely, unexplainably, unexpectedly shattered over the loss of a man I had never met. I could not confide yet to my family how I felt about the death of Michael Jackson. I definitely and sadly could not share with my church family how I felt. Yet I knew the Lord was working in me in a way I had never experienced before.

Uncharacteristically I had been spending many hours late into the night and on every opportunity at work researching, watching every MJ video I could find, reading books and magazine articles over and over in an attempt to feel close to MJ in some way, to bring him back to life.  My guilt for not being there for Michael, not praying enough for Michael, the weight of the loss of this incredible human being was so encompassing in every area of my life at times it was almost debilitating. This behavior was not my normal MO. I had spent the last 15 years of my life raising my children as a struggling, single mother, surviving my ex-husband’s drug addiction, abuse and my mother’s long illness and death, lay offs from several jobs and rebellious teenagers. I was a survivor to say the least. Once I had been a crazy music person but for years I had been taking refuge in my church groups and listened to nothing but contemporary gospel music surrounded by prayer, much love, support and encouragement from my church family. It was here in this cocoon that the Lord remodeled my life and healed me of so much pain. When Michael Jackson died it was like a polar magnetic shift happened in my life and I was thrust out into the world again. In my survival mode and ignorance I had missed out on so much of the later years of his life. Guilt over whelmed me. I had kept tabs on him via the media over the years but held on to the notion that Michael would always be there and I could always catch up later. If only I had paid attention, not listened to the media, been a better human being, more like Michael. An invisible force drew me back to Michael Jackson and I knew I HAD to somehow visit him at Forest Lawn.

Having lived here in Southern California for many years and having spent a few years home schooling my children we had made several trips to Forest Lawn. I knew it as a beautiful place with much educational history and art which is shared with children on very entertaining and engaging field trips. Wonderful animated actors portray Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Abraham Lincoln as they teach the children how sculpture is created into masterpieces, how paintings evolve into great works of art, and Lincoln teaches children about the simplicity of the stick toys he played with as a child and his love of reading, even allowing each child try out his stick toy. He coaches them through as the children find it is not an easy task to master. There are statues of children everywhere on the grounds and inside the mausoleum. The main hall of the mausoleum holds statues and art created by artists Michael loved, studied and also included in his concert stage videos. Replicas of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and ‘La Pieta’ and the painting ‘The Creation of Adam’, as well as a Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting ‘The Last Supper’ which is on display behind a closed curtain, where daily the curtain is pulled and an orator explains the history and details of the painting as you sit surrounded by magnificent pieces of art.  It truly is a beautiful and fitting place for Michael, who loved art and children so very much.

I had a very good idea where Michael was laid to rest and I was drawn to Forest Lawn in a way I have never experienced in my life. The need to visit him there and ask his forgiveness is beyond explanation to me, but I needed to tell him I was sorry, so incredibly, deeply, crushingly sorry for how the world had treated him and that I was sorry for abandoning him in his time of need. This was a couple of months after he was interred and the public had been told by the media that no one was allowed to visit him. Yet I knew the area and knew I must go.

There was not a soul around as I found Holly Terrace and slowly climbed the steps to reach out to Michael. I remember feeling the world around me stopped, completely quiet except for a few birds chirping and singing in a distant tree. The silence seemed so oppositional to the amazingly full life that Michael lived, so final, so wrong. I stood alone at the doors of Holly Terrace peering through the glass, listening to my own heart beat, with sharp stabs of heart ache and brokenness piercing every breath and fiber of my being, wishing with all that was within me that the Lord would have taken me instead and left Michael who gave so much to this world and still had so much to give. I thought of the dynamics of Michael’s life and the torment he endured, the phenomenal diametrical power of malice, cruelty and lies which the press, talk show hosts and rag magazines had inflicted on the most kind, gentle, loving and caring human being that has graced this planet. Twisting and distorting his image and reputation to suite their need to make money off his name. The thought of the incredibly horrific way the media had treated this precious, gift from God was so overwhelming my knees buckled. I found my way to the cement bench at the doors of Holly Terrace and gingerly, carefully sat down feeling as though I still should not be there. The weight of the global bullying and torture Michael Jackson endured hit me full on as I sat there looking at, feeling, experiencing the end result of that global bullying, feeling the reality that Michael Jackson, Peter Pan who should have lived forever, lay dead behind those doors was too much for me to handle. Although there was no one around I found it painfully impossible to stay at the doors and retreated to the safety of my car where I could privately cry and talk to God. I thought my heart was being torn out. I sobbed, my body shook with grief as tears streamed down my face. Then I gathered myself to drive home.

It was months later that I ventured back to Holly Terrace when a Face Book invitation was posted on MJ-Upbeat by my dear, kind and loving friend Bonnie, stating that Southern California MJ fans would be meeting at Holly Terrace to pay respects to Michael and anyone who loved him was welcome to join in. Since my pain, grief and need to know all and everything possible about Michael had not subsided but instead had grown even bigger each passing day I decided I must go to see if anyone else felt the same way. This is another story in itself but suffice it to say I met the most beautiful and wonderful people at Holly Terrace that day and knew I would never have to be alone in the roller-coaster of my grief again.  There are many of us who have walked this journey of healing together over the last 22 months now. I am grateful for each of you I call my friend. You know my heart.

Donna, it was on April 3, 2010, Paris’ birthday, on one of those Southern California MJ fan gatherings, we sat on that same stone bench at Holly Terrace and talked about Michael right out side the doors to his resting place. We shared about family and Michael, spilling our hearts. You were looking through the most wonderful book delivered to Michael at Holly Terrace, a collection of condolences and remembrances from fans all over the world. I kept gazing back at your beautiful flowers you had brought for Michael and I felt a nudge from the Lord as if angel’s wings were touching my back telling me those flowers were special. Then I glanced down at the page in the book you were looking at and right there on that page was a personal note from another dear MJ friend in N.Y. I have come to know and love. This special lady who has the kindest and most giving heart for children, on a regular basis she lays her heart out on the line in very tangible ways for children who have no one in this world. She is on the forefront of the fight to give LOVE to abused and neglected children. I am so honored to know her. I was beyond amazed that at that very moment while looking at your heartfelt beautiful flowers, and feeling the nudge of angel’s wings, that I would look down to see her message to Michael jumping up off the page at me. Out of the thousands in that book there was her humble message of everlasting love and devotion to Michael. I had no idea she had written anything, was not looking for anything special in the book but just perusing it and taking in the out pouring of LOVE for Michael from around the world. This clearly was one of those confirmations from God I have come to recognize as Michael-incidences. The nudge I felt from angel’s wings grew stronger pushing me on. Yes your flowers were definitely special and I felt the Lord or Michael or both tell me “Paris would absolutely LOVE those flowers.” I still hadn’t thought about going to Hayvenhurst. I thought if I told you what the Lord and Michael were telling me (as we were still at that time total strangers) you would think I was completely bonkers. The push at my back, a gentle but firm insistent urging grew stronger. Then you confided that you had brought a present for Paris for her birthday. I knew that a group of fans had already taken presents and dropped them at Hayvenhurst for her and I personally really didn’t plan on going there but then suddenly I could no longer keep my mouth closed about God’s urgings and heard myself offering to take your beautiful flowers for Michael to Paris instead along with your precious present for Paris. I thought to myself “What the heck are you doing, Betty?” but then it didn’t seem to matter as I have come to recognize when God gives me a Michael mission I must do it, finish the task, see where it leads me and it always inevitably leads to blessing others in some way. Sometimes it leads to much criticism as well but when the Lord is the one guiding me with His blessing I pay little attention to what others say.

I remember we stayed a bit longer at the doors of Holly Terrace and both together and at different times peered through the window to see Michael’s resting place. It wasn’t long before I knew in my heart I must go before dusk fell and deliver your items to Paris for her birthday. The whole day was the most incredible series of Michael-incidences. I took hold of your gifts and hugged you goodbye only after inviting you on my journey. You were so afraid to drive have come a long way baby. You now drive all over for our Michaeling adventures. I still wish so much you could have been there that day. I arrived at Hayvenhurst and parked down the street, taking a deep breath and saying “Ok Lord, I feel like You wanted me to deliver these to Paris for Michael and Donna… so here ‘WE’ go.” I carefully gathered your items and began my purposeful walk down the street to the compound, just as I approached a small pull out section along the street and just about half way down the street from the compound driveway two cars, Range Rovers, pulled up along side me filled with MJ’s nephews and other younger family members. They waited there and kept turning to look back toward the driveway. I smiled at them as they looked at me and kept walking. Then I realized they were waiting for the rest of the Jackson caravan. As I approached the drive way a Mercedes pulled out and stopped at the end of the drive way. Those inside began waving and pointing at me. I waved back and self consciously smiled. I realized suddenly they were pointing to my T-shirt which was a Justice for Michael Jackson T-shirt. I was very happy to know they approved of and felt my support for them and were aware of the fans desire for justice for Michael. Then a dark suburban pulled up behind the Mercedes and they waved at me too. I suddenly was so shy and felt as though I was intruding on their privacy. I wanted so badly to look inside the vehicles to get a closer, better look at which Jacksons were waving at me but my feeling of intrusion on their lives took hold and I cast my eyes down lowering my head in embarrassment instead. I believe it was La Toya or Randy waving as I believe they both have Mercedes. I am still not sure. I just felt like it was none of my business and didn’t want to intrude on them or this special day. My mission was to deliver your gifts.

There was a lot of action at the compound that day and clearly a Jackson family party was taking place. There were several body guards at the gate and it was wide open but the one tall good looking body guard (I wasn’t too shy to notice that Hee Hee) who was waving and talking to the family members in the cars parked in the driveway turned to me, looked me in the eye and gave me a great big friendly smile. He took my hand warmly, shook it and thanked me for coming. I was shocked and surprised at such a heartfelt and warm welcome. The Jacksons still continued to sit and watch me hand over the flowers and present. I told him the flowers and gifts were from you “Donna, a local So. Cal., Michael Jackson fan” and I was delivering them for you to Paris for her birthday and had just come from Forest Lawn. He genuinely acknowledged me and the gifts saying, “Paris will just love these flowers. They are so beautiful.” He went on to tell me that she was so happy, grateful and appreciative to receive all the gifts from the fans and that he would make sure to personally deliver your the flowers and present to her. He also said the Jacksons so appreciated all the fan support and presents as well. I thanked him and told him to please convey a very Happy Birthday to Paris from all the fans then stepped back, turned and began walking back to my car. It was then another final SUV joined the other two vehicles in the driveway and the caravan pulled out and joined the nephews who had been waiting down the street. They all then caravaned off down the street and on to Ventura Blvd, away from Hayvenhurst.
To this day I wish I would not have been so shy and had directly spoken to the Jacksons, to tell them personally how much I pray for them and miss Michael. The larger SUV at the end of the caravan looked to be Michael’s dark navy SUV and I believe the children may have been inside; however no matter because I would never want to be that kind of fan who pushes in and intrudes on their privacy. In fact I pray daily for them along with my own family for their safety and protection in all areas of their lives.

Today here we are again one year later and it is Paris’ birthday. She is 13 today, a beautiful young woman, an amazingly poised, intelligent and compassionate person just like her father. I just know as Michael looks down from heaven he is so incredibly proud of her and also of both Prince and Blanket. Michael packed into those few years with his children a LOVE and teaching that is unsurpassed. He was the most amazing father with incredible parenting skills. His children are the greatest testament to who Michael Jackson truly was, a man of great compassion, a heart of gold, deep intelligence and talent beyond the stars. I know the children will always miss their father but I also know he lovingly, patiently and perfectly gave them the most spectacular parts of himself while he was on this planet. I pray those parts of him will carry them along their path in life.

Additionally as I write this post and only weeks after Elizabeth Taylor’s passing, one of the beautiful works of art at the main mausoleum is the statue 'The Angel of Memory'. Elizabeth Taylor is now buried just under this statue. Both Michael and Elizabeth were created and chosen by God to be works of art in and of themselves and for her to be buried where many beautiful works of art are openly displayed for viewing seems fitting to me. Elizabeth, Michael’s dearest friend, now lays at rest forever immortalized amongst great works of art from past centuries.  The thought that you need to pass by her resting place to view the main show room which contains the art from Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci is not lost on me and brings a smile to my face as I think about how this particular final resting place, even in death shows what a beautiful star she was in life. Elizabeth was a loyal and dear friend to many in her life but most especially to Michael Jackson. I will always love her for that. She like Michael will never be forgotten. There will never be another like either of them...Ever.