The whole time during the Michael Jackson memorial service, amidst the platitudes and tears and yells from the crowd, the musical performances, the parade of family members, celebrities, religious and social leaders, the larger-than-life video projections and song quotes, this is what I thought:

No one really knew him at all.
No one. Not a single person in his life.

I think people tried, or thought that they knew him, or knew him once, or thought they knew enough. I think some attached meaning and depth to him that he did not internally possess, although I suspect he desperately wanted to be that person, more perfect than anyone in intent and character, divine, royal, special.

But he knew he wasn't that, never could be, and the dissonance in his head became a clanging relentless nightmare. It was unlikely that he ever formed any kind of a real personality at all. There was no "Michael Jackson" for anyone to know.

Underneath the flowers, inside the bronze-and-gold casket, lies the battered and pathetic remains of a human being, who like icons before him, did not have the physical nor emotional strength to survive the burden of what others wanted and expected from him. I imagine his mother remembering the day she gave birth to him, a perfect lovely baby in her arms, and now sitting in a generic arena in California 50 years later, staring at his casket. No amount of money or fame or acclaim can replace that baby, and can never change the reality of the tragedy that his life was in the end. That is seen in the tight faces and dulled, hopeless, resigned eyes of the mourners, having given up on him long, long ago.