2016. A sad way to close it out. My husband and I both lost our heroes this year.
Dear George Michael:
You were a bridge for me, from childhood to something else, a conduit between an innocent fear-laced infancy to the gravelly seriousness that characterised my tortured teens.
In the eighties I drank every inch of you in- on television; drained every drop of your dark honey voice through my radio speakers, through my headphones.
(One famous incident occurred when I helped my mother paint window frames. I dragged the radio out and sang along gleefully to “I Want Your Sex” without an ounce of bashfulness. I was eleven. She was horrified.)
You were with me when I grew into my twenties, and beyond the exhilaration of your ‘Pride without Prejudice’ moments of true musical greatness. That album was my soundtrack to a formative family trip to the States, and a poignant time feeling your lyrics to “Praying for Time” right as the Gulf War broke out. There was a moment of self-effacing, flame-cheeked indignation as my older brother oversaw my journal entry: ‘HASN’T THIS WORLD LEARNT ITS LESSON??!!’ (Ironic, now.)
But you were there. You were always there inside my ear canal, crooning through my headphones, those cassette tapes turning laconic revolutions in my Sony Walkman. (Sony: ironic.)
And you are here now, every “Last Christmas”, and every croon of my own that I serenade my mystified children with. Every shower rendition of “Kissing a Fool”. Every dance that aches of long gone dancefloor days.
I’m so sad for you. But I’m removed enough to almost feel happy that you are spared the ignominy of living out another half a century of exposure, of magnification, of unrelenting commentary.
You were so young, and so eager, and so talented. You had no idea what life would become.
But I hope you had joy, pure, genuine joy. I hope you were always close to your sisters and your family. I hope your fame enabled plenty of moments of real pleasure, cocktails with a sunset, luxury sheets.
I hope a part of you never got entirely sick of those faces that dropped slack jaws in your direction, never tired of the admiration in most peoples’ eyes. I hope you lived to your fullest extent.
And I thank you for what you did for me. I thank you for what you created. And what you left behind.
Because for me, for someone on the other side of the world who will never meet you now- except as the first guest on my fantasy dead-or-alive dinner party list- for me you will always live on. Every moment I can turn up the volume and close my eyes, in that moment you’ll be there just as surely as you ever were.