2007 was when I began to meet Michael alone and also be around him day after day, for months at a time. This phase occurred partly due to a series of happy circumstances, a gift from the universe perhaps, a final gift before the end of all things.
The year was full of fairy-tale experiences, including a dreamlike encounter at The Wynn in Las Vegas in February, an evening with him and about eight other fans at Disneyland Tokyo in March, a limousine ride with him and his children through Las Vegas in June, and the most magical night of my life, at the Green Valley Hotel in Las Vegas in December.
In March 2007, Michael held me in his arms at the VIP party in Tokyo.
I asked him, “Do you know how much we love you?”
He answered, “Nooo.”
I think that in the same way we as fans find it so difficult to believe that he truly loves us, I mean really LOVES us, he finds it hard to believe that we truly love him, not the persona or the performer or the idea of him, but the essence of who he is, human and fragile and real.
Our love for Michael is more than most people ever experience – and that’s why so few can understand or relate to it. It requires nothing in return. Even if I’d never met him or he hadn’t given me any special attention, I would still love him just as much as I did at the age of 13, just as much as I do now. The love was absolute from the first moment and will always remain so.
The Emerald Isle
When Michael returned to Los Angeles from England in March, I went to the airport to greet him. He invited me into his car and he and his children talked to me about the time they had spent in Ireland the previous year. They spoke of carefree days on hillsides, of flying kites and riding horses, and of Irish mythology and music.
Over the coming months and years, Michael would often speak about this period in his life, always with warmth and fondness. He told me he was in love with the Irish people and culture, that he dreamed of owning a castle in Ireland and that he’d written a number of songs while there, which he couldn’t wait to share with the world.
While speaking with me on 9 December 2007, he said (as extracted from my transcript of that evening):
“You know, I always felt a special affinity to Ireland, even before I ever went there. How could you not love that beautiful emerald island? It's so green and luscious and has such beautiful forestry. And I love all the folklore about fairies and elves and leprechauns.”
My native home (I was born and raised in Co. Cork) was a refuge for Michael and his children, a place where they could escape from the glare of the media spotlight and live in relative obscurity. I wish with all my heart that they had stayed there forever.