"What hit me most about hearing the news of Michael Jackson dying was only then I realized just how much he meant to me, how much his music was such a part of my life," confided my friend Eboness from New York by phone on Thursday evening, just hours after the shocking news of the pop star's passing had clogged all channels of communication.
One of the many friends and acquaintances who seemed compelled to reach out and talk MJ on Thursday and in the days since, Eboness is 38 and lives in Harlem. Like so many people out there, she grew up on Jackson's music.
She said she and her mom had just come from 125th Street, where a growing crowd was gathering en masse outside the Apollo Theater to spontaneously mourn alongside total strangers in the shared sadness. As Jackson's music boomed from speakers up high, the teary eyed crowd below, with sunken shoulders, sang along to every lyric.
Thursday afternoon's shocking news of MJ passing caught everyone off guard it seemed. When I got that first text on my phone sometime after 3pm from my friend Timi D... which read "Michael Jackson just died???" I thought that maybe it was some of kind of prank or inside joke about the oft mocked star. Maybe it had something to do with his string of upcoming UK concert dates, I theorized as my Google search quickly confirmed the tragic news, with reports citing either the LA Times who broke the story or leading gossip news site TMZ that simultaneously reported on the same story. And when I next logged on to my email, my inbox was overflowing with messages with MJ's name in the subject box. I then clicked on the Amoeblog, where I saw that Whitmore had just posted the news. That was about 3:15 or 3:20 pm on Thursday; by then the news had already spread like wildfire via news and gossip sites and of course via Twitter, Facebook, and every other social network.