It is with a sad heart today that I write this blog. My brother, Gotham Chopra, and my father, Deepak Chopra, have both written beautiful articles remembering our friend, Michael Jackson. I debated writing something or not, and in the end decided to write for my own healing process.
My brother and I had a magical childhood, and much of this was because of Michael. For us, Michael let us visit Neverland like it was our own – from movies to playing video games to bumper car rides to playing with the chimps to eating amazing chocolate chip cookies, we were able to take our cousins and friends to this magical place and just have pure fun. Eating meals with Michael in those days – almost 20 years ago now -- was always an experience. He would start humming a tune and then excuse himself. When he came back, he would giggle with delight, explaining how music just came to him and he had to record it to save what came, he always said, came from some place else. Every moment we were with Michael, I would be utterly comfortable and utterly in awe at the same time.
My relationship with Michael was very different from that of my father and brothers. Michael and I shared an absolute love for children, and his heart cried about the pain children around the world faced. One day, while chatting with him about his upcoming Super Bowl performance, Michael was brainstorming how he could use the worldwide exposure for a greater cause, and the Heal The World Foundation was born. My first job, after graduating from college, was to launch the foundation with a small team. I was so proud of the work we did in that short time, only to find that our good intentions came to a halt when Michael was accused the first time of child molestation. Over night, understandably so, non-profits backed away from our efforts and we quietly closed shop. My family always maintained our belief that Michael was innocent in both cases – for those that were close to Michael, all would admit he was quirky and had bad judgment at times. But to think Michael could abuse a child was unfathomable in my mind.
Over the last decade, my relationship with Michael continued to be focused on kids, but now our own. (We remained connected through my best friend, Grace, who served as their nanny for many years.) It was amazing for me to witness in those early years how enamored Michael was with his children. He changed their diapers through the night, sang and played with them, rocked them to sleep, bathed them and had to change his own outfits when they threw up on him – the same routine that all parents know and love. In the few times we spoke, he would always reflect on the miracle of being a parent. He also protected them in a way that reflected his own lost childhood, and his paranoia about being taken advantage of. Paris, Prince and Blanket are three beautiful children. With Michael gone, I truly pray that they will find some peace and be spared the heart wrenching pain that their father faced time and time again in his life.
I write this blog in London after having a very surreal encounter with the kind of people that Michael was always paranoid about. I will spare the details, but in those few hours, where I felt my kids were in a vulnerable situation, I had just the tiniest insight into why Michael became so paranoid in his life. So sad that such a trusting soul had to become so distrustful. Because truly he was a loving, trusting soul.
Here in London, like in much of the world, every television channel paid tribute to Michael Jackson. As I watched some clips with my two young daughters (7 and 5), I found I had so much to explain to them. Why did he have white skin (he had a skin disease)? Why did he look so different from when he was a kid? (A fascinating discussion about plastic surgery followed). Why did he look so weird? Why did he hide all the time? What’s going to happen to Prince, Paris and Blanket? I patiently answered their questions, focusing on being a mom that needs to help her children understand a confusing world. The reality is that Michael's life and story brings up painful questions about how we see the world and treat others.
And, as we were watching, the Heal the World video came on. And finally after holding back all morning, my tears streamed down freely, as my two daughters held me. Hearing that song, in which Micheal sang about healing the world…
Michael truly had a gift to heal – his music and his sweet soul touched billions - and for that, I hope he will be remembered.
Mallika Chopra is the founder of Intent.com, a site focused on personal, social and global wellness