Thursday, June 25, 2009

'The King' is dead. Michael Jackson, 1958-2009

They say you’ll always remember where you were when you heard a stunning piece of news (such as the death of JFK, the death of Elvis, the 9/11 attacks, etc). I guess that's true. I know I wont forget the moment I first heard that Michael Jackson had died.

Ed McMahon died yesterday. I wasn’t shocked really. He was 86, so I guess I felt he had lived a full life and it was just his time to go. Then I saw today that Farrah Fawcett died today. She was 62. This was not exactly a shock either, since she’d been battling cancer for a while. But I didn’t see this one coming at all.

Today, things started as just another weekday afternoon. I was driving home when my wife, a journalist with a national news outlet, called. She said she might be home later than usual. The reason: Michael Jackson had had a heart attack and was in the hospital, and if, God forbid, he should die, she’d have to work late to cover what would be a huge story. When I hung up the phone, I was hoping for the best, not sure what to expect. But when my cell phone rang again 11 minutes later, I had a bad feeling as I answered the call.

“I’ll be working late tonight. We just got the news Michael Jackson died”
“Are you sure?”
‘Yeah pretty sure.”
“Are they carrying it on the network yet?
“No. Not yet, but we have some pretty solid information on this. We just need to verify it fully before we run the story, but we have every reason to believe it’s true. Don’t tell anybody yet, because it’s not yet official... but right now, it looks like it's true.”

I continued driving, making two stops on the way home, listening to the radio all the way there. “Michael Jackson is dead,” I thought to myself. ‘Wow. This is crazy.”

I listened as the radio host was covering the story, speaking of how Michael Jackson had had a heart attack and was in grave condition. Listeners were calling in , with the callers and the radio host hoping for the best, but gradually sounding increasingly pessimistic. It was kind of odd to me, knowing already that Michael was dead, even though the radio host kept saying he was in grave condition, and that they were waiting for word on how bad the situation actually was.

By the time the radio station finally announced, maybe 90 minutes later, that it was confirmed that Jackson had died, it started to dawn on me just how big a story this was. Jackson was probably the biggest thing since Elvis, and here he was, dying suddenly at a relatively young age (50) much like Elvis did (at 42). I listened to the radio guy rattle off some impressive statistics: 13 Grammy awards, 750 million records sold, etc. And the more I listened, the more it hit me that this was just not another death, as much as I wanted to kind of tell myself that it was just one of many thousands that will take place today and every day. This was the death of a musical and cultural icon – in some ways, the end of an era.

As I sit here typing this, the news networks are still giving this wall-to-wall coverage. I was a kid when Elvis died in 1976, and barely even noticed it, if at all, even though it was a huge story worldwide. But here I am, witnessing first-hand the effects of the sudden death of someone who could be considered the Elvis of this generation, and whose music was in many ways the soundtrack of our generation.

A moment like this often will cause us, rightfully so, to become pensive, even philosophical. It makes one think of how suddenly it can all end. It reminds us of how God can call our number at any time, and how important it is for us to be ready to meet him.

Several scripture verses come to mind at a time like this:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. (Acts 2:40)

For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:14)

All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (Isaiah 40:6-8)

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. (Ecc 12:1,7-8)

Blessings to all who read this blog.
Thanks for visiting.

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