When the first pages of this book were written it was just a thought, a way of trying to understand the reason for this loss, a way to work through my grief and the pain of losing Michael and the way it happened.
I had kept thinking if he had had a serious illness then maybe I could have come to terms with this tragedy, but this wasn't the case - or so I told myself. However, the truth is that depression is an illness more debilitating than one easily detected by a physical injury or a painful illness. And I understand this so much more now because since 22 November 1997, I too have experienced its grip. My depression was so debilitating that I could not get out of bed - I could not walk or even move without enduring excruciating physical pain. I spent a week in hospital going through every known test there was -x-rays, blood tests galore - but nothing at all showed up.
My wonderful husband Ross carried me, bathed me, fed me, and put up with my tears and anger throughout until I was able to bring myself out of that horrendous period. I had to realize that no matter how much I screamed or cried nothing in this world could bring Michael back, and I had to focus on picking up the pieces and get on with my life, even though a child's loss can never be replaced.
Michael was a gentle, loving boy, who loved life and certainly tried to do all he wanted to do in the time he lived. Most importantly he lived his dream, and his songs and beautiful voice live on. He had a love of travel and listened and learned, he loved to read and was mindful and caring with his family. We had a very special bond. That is the Michael I really knew, and I loved him unconditionally. I remember one night I was standing backstage watching one of his concerts and he used a word I didn't approve of. He suddenly realized I was there and said to the audience, "Oops, my mother is here, I'm not allowed to say that word - she will send me to my room." He then turned to me and said, "Sorry Mum". It was a family joke - I'd say that to him whenever he came up with something I didn't approve of, and it always used to make him laugh.
Well, he has now gone to his room, and I know he is looking down on me and helping me through life until I see him again.
Eight years ago when Michael's loss was raw there were thoughts I wanted to express about him, but I was in shock and unable to share the most private feelings. These past few years have held much pain and anger but rising above it all, memories. At first I wanted those memories to fade because they involved immense heartache. As time passed, I wished for more memories and found myself asking my children for more details of special times with their uncle. I am one of the fortunate ones, as I can remember Michael as a child. He was very happy and sweet-natured, a wonderful mimic with a great sense of humour. All of these qualities assembled to produce a man with a charismatic personality, who happened to be a poet and a man of music. Those closest to Michael knew that his powerful presence was not a figment of publicists' imaginations.
Some say that fame should not change the dynamics of a family but unfortunately it does, if only because of the influence of the outside world. We have all discussed this at length over the twenty years that Michael was involved in the music industry and we tried to convince each other that fame was a separate issue. But it wasn't. Many times Michael said that what he did was just a job - but even he knew this not to be true. Michael was perceived as someone special and magical and we know his talent was unique, his lyrics haunting. His work has taken on a life of its own, and we are fortunate that this endures. I could not listen to Michael's music for many, many, months after his death and felt guilty about this because fans and others around me, were listening more intently. Having said that, it was hard to avoid as every radio station seemed to play INXS in high rotation for the first half of 1998. Obviously plenty of others did want to hear Michael's voice. Now, I rejoice and thank the Lord that, unlike most families who lose a loved one, we can hear his voice. Sometimes when we least expect it- on the car radio, in a store, a movie, television, a restaurant, the beauty salon, at the beach; practically anywhere.
I'm part of you; you're part of me; there's nothing said that cannot be undone; flesh and blood…
These were lyrics to one of the last songs Michael wrote and after I listened to it, I called him and he told me that this song represented hope. It was telling us all that even though relationships can be fragile, we are all apart of one another, and we should be always willing to forgive and start anew.
In the end he was, in his own words, just a man . A brilliant, very gentle and caring man, I think, and one who gave us a lot of love and left us many beautiful memories, which live on. We who knew the private Michael must remember to be happy and grateful that he was fortunate to achieve most of his dreams. So many times and in so many ways he took us on the journey with him. He clearly thought of himself as an ordinary man leading an extraordinary life. We should give thanks for this extraordinary life.
Rest in peace at God's side sweet brother: I hope that somehow you know that you will always be in our hearts.