Gratitude Day 9

Yesterday, I learned that one of hip hop’s icons, Heavy D, passed away suddenly at age 44. Too young…too soon.  In the face of such sad news, I searched to see if there was something to be grateful for during 30 Days of Tessism.

Heavy D has always been lauded as a pioneer among “big men” in the rap industry, but his impact and influence went far beyond his own career pursuits over the past 25 years. He was a triple threat – an artist, producer, and actor – who rubbed elbows with some of the best, and sometimes unlikely, names in the business.–Seandra Sims “Five Overlooked But Epic Facts About Heavy D”,

Gratitude:  I am grateful to have grown up when I did.  In a an era of hip hop at it’s purest and most diverse.  Although I am shocked with the passing of icon Dwight “Heavy D” Myers, I am glad that he was such a major part of my formative years.  I celebrate his life and am saddened that it is in death that I am reminded of his impact on so many lives.

In the place of sorrow, I pour gratitude.  Thank you Heavy D for your kindness, grace and style.  Thank you for being an example of versatile man who proved that hip hip wasn’t the realm of over-aggressive posturing.  You were a gentleman.  You were kind.  You were dedicated to your daughter, your family, your friends and your fans.  I am grateful to count myself among them.

Rest in power Heavy D.  Thank you for your contribution to the soundtrack of my life.  Thank you for giving me something to aspire to.

In Memoriam

On another day as bright and sunny as this one, we lost him.  I denied it as long I could, writing: Is it true?  The heart won’t accept what the tv reports…

So far, it has been confirmed by almost every other major news source except for CNN that the most prolific pop icon, Michael Jackson has passed away. I remain quiet, mouselike, diminished until CNN drops the confirmation. I expect that I will remain in denial long after that.

This has the same feeling that 9-11 did as I ran, covered in dust, away from the collapsing towers. The day was as beautiful and calm as this and yet something so unfathomable was happening. When I am done denying, I will no longer trust sunny, breezy days to keep me safe.

I am no longer in denial.  Denial shifted into mourning, then anger at an unnecessary loss and the treachery of summer days obliviously dealing out tragedy.  I spent much time being angry that it was only in death was Michael truly appreciated for mark he left on the world and the lives he transformed.   More anger came when the media sought to rehash the ugliness he had endured and was taken out on my tv as it was promptly shut off.

Many people understand Michael’s impact personally and the people who don’t perplex me or are just too young…or something else.  The death of Michael Jackson hit me like the death of a family member.  He was someone who was with me through every part of my conscious life: Billy Jean when we first moved to the US, praying that he would pick me up from school, choreographing dances to “Human Nature”, fighting my brother to play with his MJ doll, hiding my face during the “Thriller” extended video, bugging out to and then practicing the dance moves in the “Remember the Time” video, geeking out to him and Janet in the “Scream” video, praying with all my heart during his last court case and on and on…

After watching This Is It, the documentary on his preparation for his last tour, I knew my loyalties weren’t ill-placed.  Here was an inspirational, hard-working, gracious, loving, truly royal soul that deserved all our extreme adoration because he totally earned it and continues to.  That anger has become a profound gratefulness that I had the honor of witnessing his life exactly the way that I did.  His 45 years of achievement and sacrifice inspires me to do what it takes and give all that I have to give in a life that is worth living and easily lost.

One year later and though the facts say he’s out of my life, I remember that as long as he’s imprinted in all these memories, he will never be gone.  Rest in perfect peace Michael Joseph Jackson.