We Forget That Paris Jackson Is Just Like Any Other Kid Who Loses A Parent Too Soon
It was three years ago that the world was stunned by the loss of Michael Jackson. By the way, that makes me feel like three years has gone by really fast. I find myself saying, “Really? Three years?” It’s kind of like realizing that your toddler is starting pre-school. It’s hard to acknowledge that so much has changed in such a short period of time.
If it feels like it’s been a short time for me, a bystander who never met the King of Pop in person, I think it’s impossible to describe how the time has flown for Jackson’s children. Those kids, who stayed very much out of the public eye while they’re dad was alive, aside from a few brief stunts or glimpses. Obviously, no one has forgotten that whole balcony thing. But really, when you think about Michael Jackson, you don’t immediately think of him as a parent.
The fact is that this rather mysterious man was the father of three. With all the controversy that surrounded the last years of his life, we ignored those little kids. Now that their dad is gone, it’s easy to forget their existence at all.
As the third anniversary rolls around, comedians will inevitably start bringing back the old Jackson jokes that they “retired” during the direct aftermath of his tragic death. Media outlets will look back on the music legend and all that he accomplished in his years of performing. And somewhere, three kids will miss their dad. The news stories won’t mention that part.
In advance of this anniversary, Oprah interviewed Paris Jackson about coping with her father’s death. This Sunday, the OWN network will air O’s discussion with the 14-year-old actress. But the pull quote that’s circulating the web reminds me of one seriously overlooked detail.
Paris Jackson tells Oprah that the dealing with the death of her father “never gets easier.” That simple phrase makes me think about a friend of mine who lost her dad in elementary school. Years later, when we were teenagers and hanging around with guys our mothers hated, my friend told me the exact same thing about her father’s death. “It never gets easier,” she admitted. “You never stop thinking about what he would tell you. You never stop wishing that you could show him your grades or tell him exciting news. You just never stop thinking about how unfair it is that he’s gone.”
I remember that conversation because it honestly terrified me. I’ve been close to my father since the minute I could recognize him. I still call my dad every single day just to check in or chat. He’s more than a parent, he is one of the most important people in my life. I remember listening to my friend, tearing up, and thinking that if I ever lost my dad, I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
Reading that simple quote from Paris Jackson put me right back in high school again, thinking about how my world will fall apart without my dad there to explain it to me. I cannot imagine what that young woman and her siblings have gone through. But I think that any child who has struggled with the loss of a parent can relate when she admits that it just doesn’t get easier.
In a couple of weeks, that anniversary is going to hit us. Radio stations will pay tribute to one of the most amazing musical artists of our time. Cable channels will air biographies and scandalous old news stories. We’ll think about the man who sang “Thriller” and was accused of horrendous crimes. But I hope that we also take a minute to think about the kids who survived him, the little ones who are missing their father in that moment. They may have a famous last name, but they are just like any other child that has lost a parent. And I have no doubt at all that it hasn’t gotten easier, no matter how many years have passed.
(Photo: The Grio)