Kiran Chetry yesterday morning, on CNN:
"As the nation and the world prepare to say goodbye to Michael Jackson..."
Well. For one thing, I am not a friend of Michael Jackson, nor am I kin. Maybe it's Facebook that is stretching the definition of the word, and this is coming from a guy with 300 -and-some FB friends. We understand the difference. Among the 300+, there are people I love, people whose friendships I cherish, people I work with and like, people I sat next to in some high school classroom years ago, and people whom I might have trouble picking out of a police lineup (and very well may be asked to some day!)
By the way - not that I would want to be a victim of crime or even a witness - but I have always wanted to be on the other side of the mirror for one of those lineups, just so I could say, "number 3, step forward and sing the chorus to 'Thank God I'm a Country Boy'." I would not want to be one of the decoys in a lineup, for even though I have heard all my life that no one else quite looks, sounds, acts, speaks or thinks like me, sure as shootin' (!) the victim would cry out, "That's him (sic)! The tall one, with the red socks! That's the guy stole (sic) my brood sow and six dozen heads of cabbage the other night and later opened a barbecue stand out near the Interstate!"
But we were talking about friendship and mortality. When a celebrity dies, someone who although not even an acquaintance, let alone a friend, of ours, was still a part of our lives, we feel the pain of loss. But "prepared to say goodbye"?
I've found it best in all relationships to back-of-mind assume that this encounter might be the last. If you love a person, if you appreciate what they did for you or, even more important, what they did for themselves - tell 'em so, doggone it! How many times have we all stood over caskets and said, "I wish I had told him I loved him...appreciated him....liked how he would bring in those homemade dinner rolls..."
Tell them now. There might not be a later. Lesson learned the hard way.