The same day that Michael called us into CenterStaging studios, on 29 May, he went to another building, a postproduction studio I think. When he left, we all got to pose for photos with him (see right). I slid into the car beside him and we held each other for a long time. This is my last truly fairy-tale-esque memory. After that, things started to change.
Firstly my friends and I no longer had the same access to him that we’d had over the previous months. There are several possible reasons for this. One is that he was preparing to go on tour in July and was therefore busier than ever. Another was that things around him were becoming more hectic, with the number of paparazzi, autograph hunters and fans increasing. Yet another is that the powers that be didn’t want people around Michael who cared about him more than the tour and would encourage him to postpone or cancel if necessary.
We still got to see him of course but our interactions were often cut short and our conversations reduced to a few words here and there. Still we were very grateful for every moment and used every opportunity to express our love, give him gifts and letters and ask him if he was okay – he always assured us that he was. When things were chaotic, we would stand on the street holding up placards with messages of love.
On 12 June, the security had us line up outside the Forum, where he was rehearsing for This Is It, and approach his car one-by-one to speak with him. Here is the conversation I had with him that night:
Me: Hi Michael.
Me: How are you?
MJ: I’m fine, thank you. How are you?
Me: I’m good, thanks. How are the rehearsals going?
MJ: Oh they’re going great. I’m getting a lot of things done now.
Me: You’re working really hard these days. Please take care of yourself.
MJ: Oh you’re so sweet. I’m taking care. I promise.
Me: I love you Michael.
MJ: I love you too. God bless you.
A confusing time
On 16 June, we started to see signs of deterioration in Michael’s health and wellbeing. Sometimes he seemed fine but at other times, he seemed stressed and exhausted. We never had a chance to talk to him properly anymore, which was very frustrating considering all the times we’d spoken to him at length (in previous months). Instead we put our words into letters, which we handed to him whenever we could.
His main security guards assured us that he was fine, just busy and focusing on the tour. We didn’t know what to believe. It was a very confusing time. We trusted our own observations and yet we questioned them too. Because surely if we could see something was wrong, with our very limited access, all those around him could too and would do something about it.
If he wasn’t happy with the number of concerts or the tour schedule, he just had to say the word and it would be changed. Right? There was no way anyone would have the audacity to refuse him, or worse, to pressure him into doing something he didn’t want to do. Right? And if he wasn’t feeling well, the tour would be postponed until he was better, or cancelled if necessary, no questions asked. Right? RIGHT??!!