Michael Jackson in 1993
In the end, the music is all that remains.
Dr. Conrad Murray has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. Whether he serves years in jail or just days, nothing can bring the singer back. There seems to be no doubt that both Jackson and Murray made some incredibly dumb decisions.
You feel for Jackson -- pushing himself to take on a 50-date concert extravaganza, and with dreams of opening the world's largest children's hospital. He must have felt there weren't enough hours in the day. No wonder he couldn't sleep, and no wonder he became increasingly desperate to somehow force his body to do so, even if it meant taking the surgical anesthetic propofol.
Murray is a little more of a mystery. He must have thought he'd landed the job of a lifetime, the job of anyone's lifetime, being asked to serve as the personal physician to the legendary singer, earning a reported $150,000 per month. Did that make him think that he had to give the singer anything he asked for? Surely he figured that if he didn't provide the magic "milk," an increasingly desperate Jackson would simply fire him and hire someone else who would.
That's understandable, but it's not forgivable. Personal assistants can do what it takes to fulfill the requests of their celebrity clients, but we hold our doctors to a different standard. Time and time again during the trial other doctors took the stand and said that, in Murray's place, they would have told Michael Jackson "no." No, I can't give you propofol to sleep, it's a drug used for operations, not to be given in one man's bedroom. No, I realize you think it's what you need, but we're going to have to find another way.
No one but Jackson and Murray were in that room on June 25, 2009, and the real story of what happened there will never be known. Those of us who are just onlookers, merely fans of Jackson's incredible career, don't have to live daily with the pain that his three children do. Sure, they're rich and famous and set for life, but the son known as Blanket isn't even 10 yet. Would many of us trade a lifetime with our father, however many years we were allotted, for luxury goods and cash?
The Murray trial will soon slip into history, like Jackson's earlier court cases and headlines. It'll forever be a part of his life story, but it'll never outshine the real legacy, his music. Walk away from a television covering the Murray trial and find a radio or a CD or MP3 player playing Jackson's music. The hypnotic opening beats of "Billie Jean," the haunting notes of "Thriller," the jazzy tune of "Black or White," the soaring notes of "Man in the Mirror."
Turning on Jackson's music after hearing more of the endless details of the Murray case is like walking into a cool lake after a slog through a mud puddle. For those of us who grew up with it, our own life memories flash through our head when we hear it. School dances choreographed to "Thriller," dramatic breakups spent humming "She's Out Of My Life," the early days of "Rock With You" and even "ABC." They're a part of our culture, almost inescapable. Whatever Jackson did with the rest of his life, he gave us that.
Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror"