Dealing with Death

mourning

In light of the most recent Kanye disturbance (That I’ve forgiven him for. The man apologized, I just want him to SIT DOWN for while) and last night’s interview on Jay Leno (see below) it really made me think about how some people deal with death. I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I tend to write what I’m thinking.

While many people wish Kanye West dead (those people need to be sedated) and did not see the sincerity in his interview with Leno, I absolutely saw what looked to me like pain gone unchecked. We know that Kanye West is not above acting the fool and has also been known to pitch a hissy fit or two concerning award shows, however he has also been humbled before when he tried to give his BET Hip Hop Award away to UGK & Outkast. I say that to say that clearly he takes these awards seriously in one way or the other. Regardless, it’s no secret that Kanye’s best friend and mother passed away last year and considering we are all aware of what his schedule has looked like we know that he has not really taken any time off. I took some time to myself to consider if I could do what he’s done in light of MY own Mother passing, and by that I mean continue to work hard and fine tune my craft. I assure you, I could not.

Many people have dealt with harsh losses and I can say that thankfully I have only dealt with one in my mature life. My grandfather passed when I was a child and while I’m sure I was affected it’s not something I can reflect on today. Last year I lost one of my closest friends that was like family to me and it hurt. I mean it really hurt. The only reason I was able to really deal with it is because I truly believe that part of his light passed on to those of us he left to watch from Heaven. I refused to really be upset because I knew I gained an angel. His death was due to illness and for that I’m glad that we were able to prepare. This type of thinking is extremely difficult and helps when you have a strong support team like I did. At the same time, I don’t think I could harness that type of energy if say one of my parents, my grandmother, or my uncle were to pass. Sure I know it’s coming, but I’ve yet to figure out how I’ll be able to deal with that. It’s not something we really spend time thinking of when things are good.

You see some people experience a major loss like that and they barely miss a step. To the outside world it’s as though they are fine and there’s nothing to be concerned with. With these people it is hard for those of us watching to feel like we need to reach out a helping hand because we’re sure that they have it all together. So we treat them like we always have, get annoyed with them when they do the slightest things, and for us we continue as if nothing has happened. I’ve seen and experienced this with my own eyes and I’ve unfortunately seen the fallout from it as the pain finally caught up with the person and everyone had no clue. Looking back on it, perhaps we should have kept the kid gloves on just in case. Perhaps we should have dropped a few more hints that we would always be there no matter what. Perhaps when we saw the random and strange behaviors instead of getting annoyed we should have “known better”. Perhaps.

On the other hand there are those who’s pain is obvious and glaring. Those on the outside don’t know which way to turn or how to move without setting off the ticking time bomb. In these situations tensions seem the highest yet patience and persistence is what is needed. While it’s difficult it’s necessary if you truly care.

We’re all different and will mourn in our own ways. It’s not for me to say “they should be over it by now” nor is it for anyone to say “I can’t believe they are up and at it so soon”. Everyone deals in their own way. Since I have thankfully never dealt with such an extreme loss so close to me, I can’t say to anyone how they should feel. Even if I had it’s not for me to speak on. All I can do is be there for them like I hope someone would be there for me. While I understand most of us do not know Kanye we act like we do when he’s out there acting reckless. We (myself included) comment on his every misstep and mistake as if we had a personal stake in it. However when it comes to support are we there? Sure we buy his albums but how many of us blog or tweet or reach out to him to say “maybe it’s time to do for you and deal with the pain”. This is not just for or about Kanye, but anyone really. I said yesterday that we love to be entertained by someone’s downfall and destruction and Kanye is clearly a part of that. While I was incensed and angry about what he did and wanted him to understand the depths of his actions, I couldn’t believe people were calling for BOYCOTTS of this man. Seriously? Do you even know what boycotts were historically used for? Things way more serious than making a teenaged girl cry. Yes Kanye needs to be held accountable for his actions, but calling for his death? This modern day lynchmob mentality scares the hell out of me.

I don’t know what really prompted me to write on this gloomy topic, but after seeing Kanye struggle when Leno asked about his Mother I instantly realized that I couldn’t be him. We hold our celebrities up on this pedestal and for the most part rightly so. However we quickly forget that they are human just like the rest of us and they will go through the things that we go through. How many of us would be able to really hold it all together  in light of such a loss without cracking a time or two? I’m not giving excuses, just something to think about.

R.I.P Patrick Swayze. You too were an Icon. They talked about you during your struggle and I just hope you are in a better place now. Just no comebacks like on Ghost. 🙂

The Birth and Passing of Icons

***I want to Thank my eHomie Tiffany P. for her great inspiration for me to write this post. She actually posed the question to myself and others and got the ball rolling on this discussion. She’s awesome. Her check is in the mail.***

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Late last evening and this morning Americans were hit with the news that Senator Ted Kennedy had passed on. It was a hard fought battle with Cancer and we all saw his journey as he continued to work hard despite his illness. During the election cycle he was a familiar face and his illness was made even more heart-wrenching when he suffered a seizure during the Inaugural Luncheon for President Obama. Nonetheless he showed that he would work until the very end. His loss is major blow to many of us as he was a strong fighter in the Democratic party and worked hard on Healthcare which is a major issue that this country is battling as we speak. The youngest of all of the Kennedy Children he was born into legacy. He was a great Icon and he will be regarded as such. Let us hope that the media stays kind to this man’s legacy and his family in this time. We know how good they are at bringing up old stuff. Click here to read Pres. Obama’s statement regarding Ted Kennedy’s death.

Ted Kennedy’s passing along with the deaths of several other notable Icons this year has caused myself and many others to ponder…. who are or who will be OUR generation’s Icons? When I say our generation, I’m mainly thinking of the 20-30 somethings that are just now getting our futures underway. Sure Pres. Obama will be an Icon, but is he ours? Perhaps we can claim him only because for the first time in a while the young people really got out there on the ground and put in a lot of work to see that he was elected. Not to mention his internet campaign was clearly a reach to us and our involvement was monumental. But the reality of it is that we’re looking more at the children of previous Icons. The children of Dr. King? Well….not quite. The Shabazz family? Who are the major up and coming actors and actresses of our generation? Heath Ledger could have been on his way, but we know how that story ended. Am I just really out of touch, is it too early in the morning, or have we become so fast paced that today’s star quickly becomes yesterday’s gossip? I know that we are the generation of here today gone tomorrow, but who is stepping up in the world to be major pioneers? Who is OUR Steven Speilberg?,  Andy Worhol, Michael Jackson, etc.? (Is it Tyler Perry!?)

Even in sports it seems there is an invisible gun picking the top athletes off.  (I realized that these guys have done it to themselves, but even in the smallest of issues we are quick to snatch their “great” cards) Rape accusation here, dog fighting there, shot self in the leg with an illegal weapon over there, side-eyed your mother in the stands two weeks ago. We’ve become so critical I wonder if we’re holding each other back from being great. Or is a true Icon above the criticism and able to step over it? Our entertainers and proving that they cannot stand the test of time. The ones that have seem to have to re-invent the wheel each time they produce something new. The YouTube generation has A.D.D.

I believe this is me issuing a challenge to myself and others. I saw it tweeted and it is often said, “what will they say about you when you die?” and that’s actually a pretty good question. Sure we could all say, “well they will say that I was nice, friendly, goofy, etc.” but will they be able to talk about the mark that you left on the world? Honestly, at this point I can’t say that they could. Sure I have goals and great ones at that, but even I allow myself to fall victim to distraction. I know plenty of people that are “on their way” and I include myself in that category, but when we look at the Icons that are quite quickly being laid to rest their legacy began often times well before the point that I am in my life.

Let me say that it’s not that I believe that we don’t have iconic people in our generation, I’m just having a hard time penning their names. Please help me. As much as I liked all four of Kanye’s studio albums I’m adverse to believing he’s the best we have to offer. I also understand that it will probably be a good 10-15 years before someone from our generation takes a seat in the oval office, but in that case they are lurking around out there, doing something, fueling the flames of their own greatness. What can we do to propel them? Do we ask that question enough? “What can we do?” We are a generation good for “causes” and getting behind “something” but are we too caught up in the idea and not the action? Even I have gotten caught up in wanting to save the world which is a distraction from being able to solve at least ONE issue. Perhaps we’re too all over the place and we need to come together to tackle things one at a time. People believe the civil rights issues are dead, I just believe they have changed. Where is our generation’s leadership on that? We’re in wars that many of us believe are unnecessary, where is our generation’s leadership on that? Social Security, Healthcare, Energy….we will be the generation that has to fix these things. Where is our generation’s leadership on that?

I can do it, you can do it, we can do it. So what’s stopping us?

Celebrating an Icon: Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Man! What a day yesterday! Nothing could have prepared me for the news that the KING OF POP had been called home. It’s funny, but I never in life thought I’d see the day. Given that he is 25 years older than me, I still always thought that Michael Jackson would never die. And I always wondered what that would be like. Well now I know. I think I’m still in shock. Once CNN confirmed it, I just went right to YouTube and tried to relive some of my favorite MJ moments and I’ll post those here for you.

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I remember:

  • Being deathly afraid of the Thriller video. I was only a year old when it came out, but I distinctly recall it being played often in my early childhood. Maybe because it was one of the most major videos EVER.
  • Owning the entire Moonwalker movie. Smooth Criminal was like a true story to me. I was seriously worried for Annie. ARE YOU OKAY?!
  • The Remember The Time video that was also like a movie. I learned the entire Egyptian dance thing that he did. And when he turned into dust I was completely amazed.
  • When I found out how they did the extreme lean in the Smooth Criminal video. I think it was because he did it in a live concert. Still requires mad Ab skills son.
  • When Michael did that interview with Oprah at his house. I felt like he was in my living room. I recorded it on VHS, it was like the talk of the school. We were so hyped to even watch it. Here is a clip. The first minute is all I’m trying to show you. It’s hard as heck to find good YouTube videos now that the internet has been taken over by people who are bored.
  • Ohhh and then remember this part!?
  • When Michael did that video with Eddie Murphy. LMAO.. WTH on both of their part. Epic Fail on both parts. LOL
  • The Jackson Family 30th Reunion. I cried while at home jumping up and down at this awesomeness.
  • BILLIE FREAKIN JEAN!! Everyone else SIT DOWN as my girl Jen B says. Just sit. In addition, the first time he ever Moonwalked. I just got chills watching this video. The magnitude of this man is continuing to hit me. WHO DIDN’T SPEND HOURS TRYING TO DO THIS!?
  • The Scream video. They were so ahead of their time and Janet was so fierce. Like this was so amazing. I felt like I was watching my brother and sister.

That’s the thing. I know that I didn’t know Michael personally, but damn if I didn’t feel like we were related. I’ve seen The Jacksons: An American Dream more times that I can count. I remember the lines “She calls, let’s it ring two times, then hangs up!” I remember the scenes. I think I, like most fans, felt like we KNEW this family. We felt like the humble celebrity Michael Jackson was our friend. You can’t tell me that if ever in my life I got a chance to meet him, he wouldn’t have treated me like it was just as much of an honor to meet me as it was to meet him. So I could do all day with this list of memories. I really could, but I’m honestly still in shock. I’ll continue to play out his music, play all of his videos, and just celebrate his life.

PLEASE! CELEBRATE WITH ME! What are some of your favorite videos, songs, memories?

P.S. my angry rant against the people who couldn’t let this man rest before his body went cold is here.

C’mon! This man was amazing from the jump!

Dear Michael Jackson Haters

**You can read my tribute post here.**

That’s right. Y’all done upset me enough to bring out the word that I banned. I never before thought that the word hater was really necessary, but you done brought it out of me. It was the only word I could think that fit. I think it works because “hate” is truly the center of the issue.

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I didn’t want this post to detract from my tribute, so I’m doing this separately. Here was the Facebook status I was forced to put up yesterday.

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I was shocked that these words even had to be said. Depite the lows the this man had in his life, I cannot believe that people refused to let him rest in death. You tortured him in life, you would think that would be enough. Are you even serious? No matter what things this man has done in his life, I truly do not believe he had a malicious heart. Someone’s Facebook status said

“Now I can safely bring my baby boy into the world without Michael Jackson”

That’s just hateful. I cannot believe someone could be so….heartless (No Kanye) at a time like that. I mean BILLIONS of people in the world are mourning and you just poop on them. Just so you can say something rude like that. Because clearly, if you are half the parent you are hoping to be, Michael Jackson would be the last of your worries concerning bring a child into the world. I hope you look at your neighbor with that level of scrutiny.

I believe that we all have demons that we fight. Michael had his and fought them. I am sure that he made his peace with God long before his passing and I pray that despite the many who tried to tear him down, he was at peace with himself. We forget that this man had his childhood stolen from him. Some people can’t even deal with day to day pressure and people being in your business on Facebook, imagine what it was like to walk in his shoes.

This man IS an icon. There are people acting like he’s the first person to ever be mourned. Ever heard of that place called Graceland? There are people who still think Elvis is alive! If Facebook and Twitter were around when Elvis Presley died, I’m sure we would have gotten an earful. Interesting thing is that Elvis didn’t influence or move nearly as many people. The WORLD is truly mourning. The radio stations and DJ’s have been playing MJ music non-stop and that’s one hell of a playlist. When I think of all the artists that have sampled him, imitated him, and worked with him I realize that music will never be the same. To those of you who think I can’t multitask, yes, I’m still sympathizing with the people of Iran. I am still concerned about the hungry children here and abroad. But am I not allowed to mourn someone that has had a presence in my life for the past 25 years? Can I not be sad that someone who is a direct link between the generation before me and my own has passed? Yesterday I was on the phone with both of my parents when the news hit. We all shared in surprise and anguish. That’s crazy. So to all you out there with hateful spirits, please fight that demon. Let the BILLIONS (I repeat that because it’s funny that you can feel for the pain of others that you don’t know, but ignore the pain of those that you do) of people who are saddened by this news mourn in peace.

Man, I showed some real restraint in this post. I seriously wish I didn’t have to say any of this.