On Wednesday 24 June the entrance to Michael’s home was crowded with onlookers and autograph hunters. Jill and I knew we would have no chance to speak with him there. So we devised a plan.
The previous evening, he had gone to the Staples Center to rehearse there for the first time – having finished up at The Forum the previous week. We decided to act on the assumption that he would go there again, at approximately the same time.
We drove to the Staples Center and went to the entrance. Two security guards from the Staples were standing by and on Jill’s (brilliant) suggestion, we told them we were there to greet Michael as he arrived and had letters to give him, but assured them that we wouldn’t approach him unless he called us over. This seemed to satisfy them and they allowed us to wait with them.
Our friends called us as soon as Michael left the house, and kept us updated every step of the way. Normally when he arrived, everyone would jump out to see him. But that night they stayed away, to give Jill and I a chance to speak with him alone. As much as they wanted to see him – as we all did all the time – their love for him is pure and selfless. Because of their enormous sacrifice, we all got to reach out to Michael collectively one last time.
Glowing in the sunlight
At 6.50pm, Jill and I saw Michael’s car turn onto Chick Hearn Court and drive towards us. We waved and I held up the letters, which we had put in a clear plastic bag. Michael leaned forward between the two front seats and the sun lit up his face, making him glow.
The cars turned into the entrance and then rolled to a stop. One of the main security guards, Faheem, was driving and waved us over. We leaned in the front window and saw Michael sitting at the back with his personal assistant, Michael Amir, beside him.
I put the letters directly into Michael’s hands and told him that they were from fans all over the world and that it was REALLY important that he read them. I repeated this several times as he turned them over, and he assured us that he would.
I then asked that we be given 30 seconds to read him a statement – one we had prepared for Jill to read that basically summed up the same concerns expressed in our letters. Michael agreed but Amir intervened and said we could do it on the phone instead. Jill handed in a photo she had taken, one of many she’d shared with Michael and that he always loved.
As the car dipped into the garage, my phone rang. But when I picked it up, all I could hear was static. This happened several times, much to our frustration. Still, we felt elated that we had at least succeeded in handing over the letters on behalf of ourselves and all the other loving fans anxiously awaiting news from LA. It was a huge weight off our shoulders.
We had all agreed to wait for a response from Michael before taking any further action. If he said he was fine and happy with the tour, we would leave it at that - and continue to support him and believe in him, as we always had. If he said he wasn’t happy and needed help, we would do whatever we could to make things right, including contacting family and friends if necessary and asking them to intervene. We would never do this without Michael's approval. We respect his privacy first and foresome and answer only to him.
In the arms of an angel
At one point Jill and I were strolling around the Staples with a friend when we came to a window that gave us a direct view onto the stage. Michael was there performing Dangerous and wearing a shirt that one of our friends – a lovely girl from New York - had given him that said “Curls for my girls,” a reference to his recently curled hair.
We couldn’t believe our eyes. We had heard songs from the tour, first at CenterStaging and then at the Forum, but none of us had seen him perform. He appeared to be walking through the routine rather than giving it his all but it was still AMAZING. At the end of the performance, an angel appeared, wrapped a pair of golden wings around him and carried him down through the stage.
When Michael left the Staples Center, at around 12.30am, he rolled his window down all the way and leaned out, wearing a HUGE smile. And when he returned to his house, we lined up on each side of the entrance as usual to greet him. He cracked the window just a few inches and stuck out his hand. I squeezed his fingers as his car rolled by and slipped him a note, reminding him of the statement. Then we all waved him goodnight.
When Amir left a short while later, I asked him what had happened with the phone call. He told me the reception at the Staples was poor, then added that Michael had asked him to remind him to call me the next morning. I woke up on 25 June awaiting Michael's call.
The end of the world
“No more wondering if he’ll call tonight. No more waiting for him to say my name, wrapping his silky voice around each syllable, making my heart sing. No more melting in his arms as he whispers sweetness in my ear. No more tiaras and glittery love hearts. No more him. No more me. Just an ocean of pain and an eternity of sorrow. For as blessed as I was is as cursed as I am. Come back to me my angel, my love, my king.”
Talitha, July 2009