[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/07/07/paris.jackson/art.paris.jackson.gi.jpg caption="Paris Jackson, 11, is consoled by her uncle Marlon Jackson after delivering a tearful tribute to her father."]
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer
It’s been a long couple of weeks since the moment we learned that Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest. From the immediate “that can’t be true” thought, to the rush of “what can we confirm,” then to my job: “who can we get?” I feel like I’ve been in Ludacris speed (note Spaceballs reference here!) since June 25.
But as the night nine of my time in Los Angeles and night 13 of our coverage winds down, I am sure the magnitude of the past two weeks will hit me soon.
Yesterday's memorial was more reverent, more respectful, more thoughtful and more appealing than I even thought possible. I knew early on in the planning process who might have been attending and performing, but even knowing who was on the preliminary list did not diminish what was on stage. And although it’s no secret that Michael Jackson was a controversial figure, the bottom line was the man was a great entertainer. It’s also obvious that he touched so many lives throughout his short life.
I spoke to my six-year-old nephew, Jackson, after the memorial. The first thing he asked was if I got to talk to Kobe Bryant. I find that funny because, although my family is a sports loving family, I do not remember ever watching any part of a NBA game with any of them.
However, Jackson knows all of the players and the Lakers are his favorite team. I thought it was cute he was asking about Kobe. Then he asked a question that really hit me: Wasn’t Michael Jackson close to Papa’s (my father) age?
I never really thought of it in that way, but yes. And so my mom told him that yes, but Michael Jackson was younger. Jackson then said, 'yeah but the first number is the same in their ages.' As a child who lost his other grandfather just a few short weeks ago, I knew he was concerned about my father leaving this world sometime soon. I never really realized just how much a death can affect a child, and I know many were watching the coverage as well.
It got me thinking about Michael Jackson’s three children. They were just joys to watch from the stands as the memorial was going on. Paris was comforting Blanket, the youngest, quite a bit, and Prince appeared to be the strong young man throughout the service. He shook hands with everyone who came by the family after speaking and performing. At one point, his grandmother got up to hug someone who had just stepped off stage, and he went to escort her back to her seat. No matter how you felt about Michael Jackson, the man left three children behind who now have to deal with all of this attention surrounding his death.
Word will get out throughout the coming months about exactly how Jackson died, and much more speculation about possible criminal charges will come out, but yesterday there was virtually none of that. Yes, some speakers mentioned some of his past troubles, but I think the primary goal of the day was to celebrate his life. And being in the Staples Center was just that: a celebration.
A new story will pop up soon that the media will focus on, a new last minute trip will be scheduled in my world, and the day will become a distant memory. But it will always be a memory and I’m very glad I was able to contribute to CNN's coverage, as well as Anderson's reporting. And I don’t think anyone will forget where they were when they watched a beautiful little girl bravely walk up to the microphone, with her aunts, uncles and two brothers bravely standing behind her, as she proudly said “Daddy has been the greatest father you could ever imagine. And I just want to say that I love him so much”.
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