Losing a sibling to addiction is a life defining moment. It is a loss you feel deeper than can be explained. It comes in three levels; at least it did for me. It appears it came that way for the Jackson Family as well. The first loss is to the drug addiction. You watch from the perimeter with disbelief. Wondering, how this is possible? Did we not have the same parents? You try to help gently first to correct the wrongs being done. You are shocked by the dependency on something you cannot understand. It is at this point you begin to notice the physical ravages from the drug addiction. This is when you start accepting the peculiar behavior as normal. You may even snidely pass stories back and forth between other siblings. The second stage is often, an intervention which is usually rejected. The new friends come in and surround your brother or sister. They build a wall that is nearly insurmountable with the bricks laid by misunderstood actions from close relatives, and friends. They begin to tell your sibling that you are not looking out for their good. They begin to set your loved one apart from you. No matter how business savvy, creative or special you believe that person to be you will fall victim to the stories being fed to them. Soon it becomes an almost normal thing to not have any communication for a few days, or weeks. When you do meet up its cordial but not long before the accusations fly about how you are the favored child, or you don’t understand what it’s like. You may even hear, “You know I am better at it because…..” In Michael’s case, I am sure his entourage made despairing remarks about his siblings’ career successes and failures in life behind closed doors to his ears. You then get to the point where you would just rather not know. The final loss is to death. You never say it out loud. You feel it in your very essence.
I watched Michael’s memorial and was struck by the similarities with my brother’s funeral. I did not cry when I spoke at my brother’s wake. I told wonderful jokes. I did however cry at the grave site. When Jermaine looked at his brother’s coffin and tossed his rose down on to the coffin top I understood. His brother left an indelible mark but the greater good was now going to not evolve. The great sadness had arrived in that truth. It was at that moment his voice began to crack. His brother’s greatness and potential all squandered away as people erase the fact that he was a great social worker, good friend and in general a good God fearing person. They whispered about his addiction and passed on all the tidbits of gossip and rumors. Gone was any celebration of the good in his life. In the interviews we hear from Tito, and Jermaine and his father Joe the truth that is often hard to find. It all becomes so tragically clear that there could have been a moment of rescue. It is the one moment to not fear whether it would be filled with the fears of quarrelling, jealousy, mistrust and arrogance. They could have gotten through it with love and determination. That is what is needed out of each of us.
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