July 5th, 2009
07:30 PM ET

A family of Michael Jackson fans

The day Michael Jackson died, I was driving home from work talking to a friend who was explaining to me how she was sobbing so intensely when she broke the news to her husband that he initially thought a member of the family had passed.

Fans sign a mural near Staples Center in Los Angeles, California Sunday.
Fans sign a mural near Staples Center in Los Angeles, California Sunday.

In a way, one had.

Trying to explain the personal connection that so many Jackson fans feels to the pop icon can be dicey because there is so much that muddies the water. So many controversies, so much odd behavior and countless unanswered questions.

But as I watched people stand in line waiting to sign a wall of remembrance to the star outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, I was reminded of the many wakes and funerals I have attended for friends and family members.

People stood reverently in the beating sun and shared the good times: the concerts they had attended, the charity work they knew he did and, of course, the music they loved.

Their conversation was as intimate as any family gathering I have ever attended – and like family – they were ready to forgive and wanted only to speak good of the dead.

"I had to come for my brother," said Delores Polite of Brunswick, Georgia who stood with her friend Vida Trusty who is from Jamaica. "He made history in this world and we need to represent for him."

Trusty said she cried when she learned of Jackson's death, not just for him, but also for his family. "I pray for Katherine, because to lose a child," Polite chimed in, her voice trailing off at the thought.

The pair said they were willing to stand in the line as long as it took so they could share their thoughts with the family of Michael Jackson fans.

"We loved him," Polite said. "To us, he was a jewel."

–Lisa Respers France, CNN.com writer


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soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. elizabeth

    About that congressman peter king. Yes, he's entitled to his thoughts
    but he acts as if he was there when the deed was supposedly done!
    If it were me & I thought someone had abused my child, the only thing I'd want is to see them rot away in prison not to accept anything else
    from them . Definately not money. Show's what people will do for mon-
    ey. In comparison look how some capitalized off m.j.'s death, his fam-
    ily's grief as well as others buy auctioning off "TICKETS" to his memor-
    ial. That p. king's other statement about the media coverage. If he doesn't own any t.v./radio stations, & is tired of seeing m.j.'s coverage,
    then let him change the channel. As my ganny used to say: "If you don't like the way I look, then don't look@ me.." What's he any way, jea-
    lous? Submitted by the same 45 y,o. blk. woman.

    July 9, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Beverly Sims

    For the fans that loved MJ, the king of pop as I did, this is my tribute to
    MJ, hope you enjoy, can you guess how many songs there is and this is just a few?

    Michael, I Remember The Time you said I'll Be There and told the Tabloid Junkie to Leave You Alone because they are Dangerous but that's Human Nature, you said They Really Don't Care About Us, they treated you like a Smooth Criminal, and yes you're BAD, working Day and Night putting out some mega hits like ,Billy Jean,Thriller,Dirty Diana, We Are the World as you looked at the Man In The Mirror in Black and White, but I Wanna be Startin Somethin, I Can't Help It, Just Can't Stop Loving You for You Are My Life, I've Got To Be There, You Are Not Alone, You Rock My World but although You are Gone To Soon, there's a Jam session in heaven and others like James
    Brown, Aaliyah, Left Eye,Isaac Hayes, Gerald Levert, Luther Vandross, Barry White, Tupac and Biggie are going Off The Wall but I will Rock With You and your memories forever!!!!!!!!!!! I WILL LOVE
    YOU FOREVER MICHAEL!

    Best Regards,

    July 7, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jen

    I am flabergasted at the fact that people can say how much they miss someone ( they never met- or just met for a split second) or how they sobbed. NO- a member of the family did not die- an entertainer/musician died. I liked his music as much as the next person and sure, its sad, he died young but geesh life goes on- and guess what.........so will music!

    July 7, 2009 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Janice Robinson

    Micheal Jackson was a talented all round preformer, and some people would prefer to think badly of him.
    For those people -– it was you that made him feel badly of himself.

    July 7, 2009 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. Stephanie

    I have never felt this way about a celebrity before, but I have to truly say, that I cried. My heart feels heavy. It's hard to even hear people talk about him. When I was a young child, The Jacksons music is what brought the family together. It started there, and then would move on to other entertainers. I really truly feel like I have lost a family member. I have all of my Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson albums together in a nice safe place now, because that's all that's left, along with a ton of memories.

    July 7, 2009 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. AS from NJ

    I can't believe Michael, THE KING OF POP, is leaving us so soon! We had so much to look forward to – his upcoming concerts, albums, videos...and suddenly it is all taken away. I am heart broken.
    :-(

    R.I.P, MJ! We love you forever...

    July 7, 2009 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. real person

    i am cryring for the multiple victims of molestation at the hands of this sick puppy. Yeah he had good songs, but does that justify molesting little boys, no. The world loves to ignore reality while believing in superficial stardom that ruined MJ's life. Very sad but not because he was some kind of hero or icon. That is sickening to even mention.

    July 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rachel

    It sickens me to read the words from those who are still accusing Michael Jackson for what the media has done to him, instead of seeing him for what he really was. It only show the true, closed-minded, ignorance of these individuals.

    Wake up, human beings.... wake up. Though our dear Michael was indeed a troubled soul internally, he was NOT what the media claims he was or he wouldn't have continued to show the world how much he loved children and all human beings. He was never afraid of you.

    Ignornance and closed-mindedness is downright ugly, and it surely says a lot about a person. I have no respect for any of you who fall into the hands of the media and believe all that you hear. And why should I? I refuse to let you bring me down to your level – a level I hope I will never be at in my remaining years on earth.

    I shut the door to ignorance because my heart and spirit clearly knows better.

    May God wrap his loving arms around Michael and embrace him for all enternity.

    July 6, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Barbara

    God blessed us with Michael Jackson, but he was only meant to be here for awhile and yes, it could have been longer. I can't question our Father, God. Michael embraced the world with his unique gifts through his music and dance. He had a very generous heart and the ability to break barriers like no other, a quality that President Obama has, as well. My remembrance of his legacy , will be one of the most magnificent, gifted, sensitive, human beings that the world has ever known. ABC...its easy as 123...FOREVER MICHAEL!!! I can imagine how soulful heaven must be rockin with the King of Pop there.... Rest on...you will be missed and forever etched in so many hearts and minds.

    July 6, 2009 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  10. iling

    People should stop comparing Michael Jackson to other stars, which by the way are stars in their own right and deserve respect, even none of them had an inmaculated life cause like all human beings they made mistakes as well. The big difference is that MJ reached people beyond borders, continents, races and religions, his music is known everywhere by everyone (whether they like it or not) and souls are nourished eveytime they listen to the incomparable beat and minds touch the stuff that dreams are made of!!! That to me is the humongous difference!

    July 6, 2009 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. jj6609

    what a sweet article! i couldnt agree more – i actually feel like a lost someone so close to me almost to the point i am embarrassed, but mj did represent a peice of most of our lives!

    July 6, 2009 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. V. Brame

    Yes, he was family and he will be deeply missed. I know I have to say goodbye to him but it’s so hard. Michael was a gentle radiant light that shined on the planet briefly but brilliantly for 50 years. Now that he is gone, the world seems darker, harder and that makes me extremely sad. I am so sorry he had to suffer so much in this life and pray he has found joy, peace and warm loving comfort in the next. Sleep now gentle King and know you will always he cherished and greatly loved by your fans.

    July 6, 2009 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. John Atkinson

    To you, he was a jewel.

    To the rest of the world, those of us with the reasoning skills of a 4th grader, he was a self-aggrandizing narcissistic mentally ill unapologetic serial child molester with body-image problems who built a playground to celebrate his own self pity, and then dragged dimwitted star-struck adults and innocent children into it.

    Leave the tears and grief to the people who honestly deserve it - Not the ones who seek to continually remind you of how incredible, generous, caring, talented, famous, or philanthropic they are.

    July 6, 2009 at 6:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tony Anderson

    What can i say that hadn't been said , Michael u are the greatest to ever do this and i for one never paid attention to any of the media hoopla they don't know u , may god cover u with his love and take care of his creation michael u are love and i love u R.I.P

    July 6, 2009 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kim Hart

    We can all get along and be happy, healthy and fit. We can loose weight, and give our bodies what they need to heal and live a good long life if we just try. Look here like I did for the answers to health, weight loss and a balanced natural diet. http://www.shopherbalife.com/freeoffer Read and find out!

    July 6, 2009 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
  16. Hanoi Kennedy

    Who's idea was it to compare MICHAEL JACKSON to elvis presley if you notice elvis is in small letters thats the difference between them one is larger than life and one just came through life. MICHAEL was an icon he was the greatest of great and color doesnt have anything to do with it he could sing and dance all I ever saw elvis do is shake a leg and he tried to sing like the black people he heard and you call him a king. You keep showing elvis in his leather show him before he died like you keep showing MJ. He looked terrible he couldnt even shake a leg anymore he sat on a stool and couldn't perform standing up anymore it was sad. Now on the other hand you have MJ still performing at 50 singing and dancing just COLD!!! Now who's idea was it to put the beatles up againg MICHAEL JACKSON im sad because elvis presley surpass them please if you look inside yourself and listen to your inner voice you will know that I came to tell the truth and nothing I said is false.

    July 6, 2009 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  17. Kathy

    Even though we aren't famous and might have only seen Michael on T.V. or in concert he brought us together taught us that change comes from within and with that change we can make a difference. No we had the blessing of his family and children sharing someone so unique as Michael with us and that made him and his family a part of our family. I know that the loss of a child is hard for I've loss a child but I know that his family and children will get through this for they are strong people and just like his fans we will cry but we will also be strong for his family. We will respect there wishes and most of all be there for them help them through this even if it is just through a prayer let them know we care, yes we will and we all will do this no matter what race we are for you see there is no difference at all...God bless the Jackson family and Children and Thank you for allowing us to know such a wonderfully talented young man.

    July 6, 2009 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  18. D.L. Shiloh

    MJ tix – voucher given for free. Enter my drawing. See http://www.twitter.com/dlshiloh for the details

    July 6, 2009 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  19. Nile

    To the Family of Mr. Michael Jackson,

    My God continue to keep Michael and you in his/her hands.

    Take care of yourselves as this is the first turn in the road . . . long journey without your beloved Michael.

    Peace & love,
    Nile

    July 5, 2009 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  20. cynthia

    Michael is absolutely the greatest entertainer of all time and I miss him so much! I love you Michael!!

    July 5, 2009 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Scott Baker

    Michael...Man in the Mirror was the song that woke me up to your MAGIC...Thank-you! Whenever I would go into a music store, I would rearrange your music to have a prominent view. I was proud to help in such a small way. I felt your music more than any other artist...I was so excited to see you in London – Sept 21, 2009. It was my dream and one thing to check off for my 'life list'. When I heard of your passing, I was actually horseback riding on a ranch (CANADA). I just hoped it was more TABLOID JUNKIE stuff. I wish it was...You really have inspired me to live and to make the world better. You will be missed by so many. I wish the WORLD would have given you more respect and gratitude for the many ways you contributed to really make this earth a better place. With the detail in DANCE, TONE and BASS....An instrument of nature was given to us...We just were not ready to truly appreciate you. I created something to express the LOVE and heartache when I lost my pup.... http://www.youtube.com/vetinsurancesib It was you in part that inspired me to do this and many other things in life...

    Why don't we as FANS show the world by creating TRIBUTE VIDEOS for MJ?? RIP MIKE!

    July 5, 2009 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  22. david

    People, people, people, he sang songs and wrote music, he's dead, it's not the end of the world, not the REAL world anyway. Give it a rest and him too.

    July 5, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  23. ash

    I have not shed these many tears in my life as I have in the past week. The world seems weird without him. I grew up with his music, and I myself did not realize how much good energy we all got from Michael in the ups and downs of life. He was truly the greatest entertainer and stage performer we will ever see in 1000s of the years, but he was so much more than an entertainer. He has much more following outside of US than in US. A true International Mega star.

    July 5, 2009 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Kenyatta Peterson

    So many people loved and feel as though they actually shared their growing up years with Michael Jackson. My feeling is that he was a definite Companion to my life throughout the years~making me smile and cry, feel happy and feel the power of wonderful music at its very best...unspeakable loss to music and in turn people.

    July 5, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Maxine

    I can't believe he's gone. Its a shame that he had to leave this world before people realized what he ment to them. He was a very talented person and he just wanted to be herd and loved by all. Its a shame he wasn,t here to see how much he really ment to his fans. If they would have believed in him long ago maybe he would still be here. My heart goes out to his family .

    July 5, 2009 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  26. zulekha

    Rest in peace Michael May Allah swt reward you with Jannah (paradise) and May Allah swt protect and keep your children save.

    your lyrics will always remain with us.

    Lyrics to Man In The Mirror :
    I'm gonna make a change, for once in my life
    It's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference
    Gonna make it right...

    As I, turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat
    This wind is blowin' my mind
    I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat
    Who am I, to be blind?
    Pretending not to see thier needs
    A summer's disregard, a broken bottle top
    And a one man's soul
    They follow each other on the wind ya' know
    'Cause they got no where to go
    That's why I want you to know

    Chorus:
    I'm starting with the man in the mirror
    I'm asking him to change his ways
    And no message could have been any clearer
    If you wanna make the world a better place
    (If you wanna make the world a better place)
    Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
    (Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)

    July 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Vicky Brush

    Michael was 4 days younger than me.

    I haven't known life a single day without his music.

    What am I going to do to fill this huge void at the age of 50? I don't know life without Michael's musical presence in mine.

    My heart is broken. I will miss him more than words can say. I can only imagine how Heaven sounds while his spirit continues to share his gifts.

    Surely, all heavenly beings are in awe.

    July 5, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Simmy

    He seemed so hungry for love and validation from his father, despite his many accomplishments......He was a true gift from God, and used all of his God-given talents.....He was a lover of people of all races, and spread so much love and joy in the world......This is how you know that one has done what he/she was sent to do – that the world is a better place because of he/she, and feels like a lesser place when he/she is gone......Michael has left so many wonderful memories......But he has also left a void that will never be filled .....Rest In Peace, Sweet Prince.......Never to be forgotten.....

    July 5, 2009 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Angie D

    I feel so terrible about all this. It IS like losing a member of family. I was 12-13 years old when Thriller came out and I was fan from that day on. My heart just breaks for Micheal's children and for the loss of him. I can't even listen to his songs anymore, its just to painful. Even through all his pain, and through the ridicule from others and the lies, MJ was kindhearted to people. He LOVED people and children and he saw himself as a protector of children. I wonder if he ever knew what he meant to his fans.. to the world? Music has died. I use to be afraid to die, but now..I'm not so scared. Who knows.. maybe we'll all see Michael again at the gates of heaven. I'm certain we will. Rest in peace, sweet Michael.

    July 5, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Joan

    I loved him, too! I have been so shocked at the level of emotion it is provoked in me. I am only 4 years older than he was...it was like losing a playmate that sang to me.

    July 5, 2009 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |

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