Advice columnist Nia Orms attended the Memorial service for Michael Jackson Wednesday. Here is her first-hand account of the day’s event.
By Nia Orms
I didn’t know if I should go to Michael Jackson’s funeral.
Even as I sat in traffic three blocks away from the Staples Center on Tuesday, I was hoping that my driver for the day would tell me that we were late and they would not let me in. However, my guest was eager to hop out of the car and walk so we wouldn’t miss a minute of the funeral and that’s what we did. In my heels and the most innocent black dress I could find I walked three long blocks to a side entrance. The police were out in force, yet there were still four or five fine, and I mean fine, muscular black men in suits standing in front of a barricade. Perhaps they were hired by the Jackson family for “real security.”
Just when I thought we’d reached the entrance, officers stopped us and told us we would have to walk even further to a side entrance — the wrong entrance. While I was upset over the long walk I realized that this wasn’t what was actually bothering me. I was really mad because I don’t like funerals. They bring back memories and temporarily drown me in sorrow and make me forget that I truly believe that life is eternal.
I turned my heels around, wiped the sweat from my face without messing up my makeup and began to walk again. I looked to my left and saw a black SUV and a hearse slowly driving next to me. It was Michael. My long legs were able to keep up with him as I clearly looked through the window of the hearse and saw his casket. All of a sudden it became real and I thanked God for the police men sending me to the wrong way. Seeing his casket in that hearse on the street reminded me that we are all the same.
We are born with talents and gifts and it is our duty to give that to the world. Michael did what he knew he could do that no one else could duplicate. That was his purpose and I believe that should be ours.
When I finally entered the actual interior of the Staples Center it suddenly felt love. The love you feel the first time you’ve met your soul mate or held a newborn. Almost 20,000 people filled the seats and I swear you could hear a pin drop. Of course all of the celebrities were there but there were no egos present. All of the rappers did not have their “girl of the week” with them — they brought their mamas. The actresses were not flashing their latest designer purses and new hair extensions — they looked humble and subdued. Everyone was a real person that day. Even Chris Brown was there with an died orange colored lightning bolt cut in the back of his hair but no one cared or rolled their eyes, all you saw was a young man sitting in a chair paying respect to his idol.
I was sitting right behind the family in the floor seating where all of the celebrities were seated. Lottery winners sat in the higher seats that circled the arena. Celebrities near me were, Spike Lee, Kobe Bryant, Diddy, but no one was really a celebrity that day. Everyone was emotional and taking in everything that was happening on stage. I have famous friends who called me the day after and said, “were you there? I was there.” This is because people could only think and see Michael that day.
The family was very emotional throughout the ceremony. They comforted each other as one would break down. Paris, Michael’s 11-year-old daughter, leaned her head on her grandmother often. The family sang songs and smiled to each other as if the music brought back beautiful memories. Paris took care of her younger brother, Blanket, like she was his mother. She pulled his fingers out of his mouth while they were on stage and told him to keep his hands down. Michael’s children knew the words to his songs so well and smiled while singing. You could tell Michael sang to them all of the time.
Many moments were profound as the ceremony progressed. The footage of young Michael brought tears to people’s eyes because we were reminded of how genius he was at ten years old. People laughed at the costumes that the Jackson five used to wear. John Mayer’s performance had more of an impact in person than the footage that I saw on TV. It seemed as if everyone thought he was going to sing at first but then everyone just got into his groove. The applause for Rev. Al Sharpton were embarrassingly small when he first walked on stage but as he preached he had people jumping up from their seats cheering. And after Paris spoke there was a second that seemed like an hour of pure silence and then most people began to cry. We could feel her pain and her sadness so intensely.
You may have seen the eulogies and performances on TV but I wish you could have felt the love. Stevie Wonder and Brooke Shields had a tremendous impact on us because they had real history with Michael and they spoke from the heart. His daughter’s last words on stage were, “and I love him so much.” I can’t seem to escape coming back to love being the purpose of our lives. On Tuesday, that was what it was all about, love. There were no thoughts of what Michael did or didn’t do with his personal life. The only thing that was present was the love that he gave through his gifts and talents. I hope that we can all try to give even half of what he gave. Michael, I love you and love is all around us.
Nia Orms is a writer and actress based out of Los Angeles, Calif. who is The Black Snob’s resident advice columnist. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line marked “Ask Nia.” To learn more about Nia and her one-woman show, click here. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Copyright niaorms 2009