Ever since I was a little girl, Michael was my real-life Peter Pan, rescuing me from mundane reality and whisking me away into a land of shimmering magical joy. He kept the wonder of childhood alive in me, as he did in so many others, and gave my life a quality and richness that is impossible to describe. The further I floated into his world, the further I drifted away from the other. By the end, his was all I knew.
If you’d asked me at age 13 what I wanted more than anything in the world, I would have told you that I wanted to go to Michael and be his friend. You might have told me that this was impossible, that I was one of millions of fans and that I would never get anywhere near him. I heard the same thing time and again. Fortunately, I never listened to anyone but Michael, who always said you should believe in your dreams and that anything is possible. As usual, he was right.
My earliest memory of Michael is from the age of seven, when I watched The Wiz for the first time at my grandmother’s house. My mom came to take me home before it ended and I cried because I wanted to stay and watch the rest of the film, just so I could find out what happened to the Scarecrow. It was years later when I discovered that Michael WAS the Scarecrow. He captured my heart from the first moment.
At age 13, I watched Moonwalker for the first time – and that was it. All the other posters came off my walls and over time, I plastered every inch of my bedroom with his image. I knew that I would love him forever and that he would always be a huge part of my life.
They say you should never meet your heroes. I’m sure that’s true in most cases. It’s normal for kids to idolize and idealize their favorite stars. But with Michael, what you see is what you get. There was no contradiction between the man I watched in Moonwalker and the man I talked to under a starlit sky in Las Vegas in 2007.
In 2009 one of my friends in Los Angeles nicknamed me Dory after the amnesiac fish in Finding Nemo. Why? Because I was so euphoric after every encounter with Michael, as if I’d just met him for the first time. No matter how many times I met him or how much time I spent with him, I never lost the miracle of who he is or forgot the little girl I was once, gazing up at the night sky and dreaming that one day I would stand in his presence.
Michael made fantasy reality. He made the impossible possible. He took the magic that exists only in fairytales and brought it into the real world. He was a gateway to another dimension, one in which possibility is defined by belief and imagination and not by concrete limitations. He connected us to something greater, something otherworldly, something divine. People say he’s different. He’s not just different. He’s better.