I must say that 2007 has been an unusually emotional year and I am truly grateful for the support of family, friends and Michael's fans. The fact is, of course, that when a person asks me; "It has been 10 years since Michael's passing, how does it feel? Any insights? Is it hard to face? Anything you want to say?" I am at a loss to express anything.
One year, five years, 10 or 20 years it is still the same for me. I miss Michael terribly. There is an ache in my heart every single day that will never go away. Something is missing and it will never, ever be replaced. Anybody who loses a close family member will feel this way I am sure. His memory is always there, every time there is a birth in the family I lament that Michael never got to see this day; this child will never get to know him, with every major event in our lives I just have to look at my children's faces, my parents' faces and I know there is a fleeting moment when they think, 'I wish Michael were here for this'.
I think it is impossible for most of us to understand the pressure put on a celebrity and his family when a tragedy occurs; when the public is interested in all aspects of a person's life, the media goes into overload. Nobody is ready for this, least of all a grieving family who have had no experience with the media..........and have been left out there minus a publicist or anyone else who can shield them. I remember meeting the first publicist INXS had in the US. In fact I drove Michael, Kirk and Andrew to their first meeting with her. They couldn't afford anyone on the top tier at that time, but she was young and hip and smart. Actually, I could not understand what she did, or why they needed her when they had an office full of people as MMA(their management company). Michael explained that not only did she get publicity for them and keep them on track with media appointments, she would step in if something 'iffy' was reported. Think of when Hugh Grant was arrested in Hollywood with a prostitute; his publicist made a brilliant calculation........she immediately put him on the most popular national television talk show in the United States and had him admit with an embarrassed smile on his face that it was a stupid thing he did.........by the next day the public loved him again, taking him to their hearts as a 'regular' -albeit 'slightly quirky', guy.
Daily phone calls and visits from the press became the norm after Michael died, and we were ill prepared for it, often just saying 'leave me alone, I'm calling the police' elicited a hasty question like, 'But have you seen what Rhett/Kell said about you yesterday, he gave a scathing interview and said Michael died from too many drugs and a sexual act gone wrong' or 'Kell says he is on Paula's side' - a really strange thing to say, why was there a 'side', we were all greiving. Now these are both outrageous comments and what we did not know is that the press makes up things like this, just to get a rise out of you. They just need one sentence, even a word and they write up a paragraph and it appears as a headline in the newspaper the following day as, 'Hutchence Family Feud'. There is nothing that can make me blow my top more than reading those words. Even Paula, who planted stories through her journalist friends, and who played the press like a piano often fell for this and I would get a screaming phone call from her in the middle of the night. The fact is, there was never a feud, we were each so out of our minds with grief, in different parts of the world, that we rarely even spoke with each other. This is probably not the best way to go, but we actually resided in different parts of the world and had our own 'normal' lives before Michael died.
I just kept saying to myself, and to my family; "Michael would not want us to go through this heartache, he was always mindful of others' feelings and flogged himself mentally if he had inadvertently hurt someone". The press continued to build momentum and so did the outrageous stories. As one journalist said to me, "If you don't answer a few questions, we will just make up the answers, why not co-operate?" They know they have you because it is very difficult to prove that they have harmed you, and if you are a nobody(such as me) they can't harm your reputation. If you are dead-they can write anything! It doesn't matter how you answer, they paraphrase and change the meaning. If you call the journalist after it comes out and complain, they have a stock answer - "Sorry, not my fault, my editor changed it to fit in the column."
Ten years ago I was concerned that eventually the little children in the family would be reading those terrible things on the internet - they never go away even when you write to the people who put them up on their sites-they won't take it down. That day has come to pass. Recently I was having a fantastic day with Rhett's girls, when the youngest said to me, "Auntie Tina, I looked up your name on the internet the other day and Michaels name and ....." We spent some time talking about things that are written on the internet and how they could ask me anything, I mean please, pleeeeeease, ask. Hopefully, some day Tiger will ask too.
Of course most of you have read that Bob Geldof has put an adoption application in to the British courts - to legally adopt my niece, Michael's child Tiger and to have her name changed to 'Hutchence Geldof'. There has been a terrific uproar from family, friends and fans over this, but from what I understand it is something that 11-year-old Tiger has agreed to. A child likes to feel part of a family - the family she is living with. In some ways I understand this as I myself adopted the name 'Hutchence' at the age of 11. Of course my circumstances were somewhat different. I was living with my mother, Patricia who was remarried to Kell Hutchence and she was expecting my first sibling, Michael. My parents were divorced when I was a toddler, my father remarried and he did not make himself available to me; he was virtually, sadly out of my life. It was a very natural progression and especially made sense when Rhett came along and we were traveling overseas with passports and other documents; it was simpler to have us all legally under 'Hutchence'. When internet sites announce that I took the name Hutchence after Michael died, I laugh because I was using it before he was born.
As for Tiger, we were initially in shock, angry - all the emotions you would go through, especially considering the unfortunate timing and the fact that we were informed by a cold soliciter's letter; we just wanted to visit the subject of visitation. However, in retrospect and considering there is little chance of us ever getting a fair chance in a British court against Bob, we have accepted the inevitable.
Besides, Tiger will always be Michael's child, that can never be erased, she will always be a Hutchence, Michael's blood runs through her veins, our mother and Kell's blood runs through her, Rhett and I are here, and she can, after all use whatever name she chooses as she comes of age. Certainly if she chooses the arts, time will tell which surname will do her well. And she too can ask me anything. Please, pleeeeease, just ask.
On a lighter subject, I have been touched to the very core and depth of my being by the sentiments expressed for Michael from around the globe. Honestly, I think he would have been blown away by the surge of tributes that swelled this year. I heard from so many, many new people, stories of how Michael touched their lives, how he continues to mean so much to people. His music lives on - no matter who is performing it. Some lyricists just don't have the range to touch the audience with their own words, but as we all know, Michael had that certain something in his voice, in his heart and soul, that made him one of the best.
To those who sent me images of the flags, and gatherings, and emails of support and encouragement; a big warm 'thank you'. I don't know how to express the appreciation for your kindness, and words of comfort. For those radio and television stations and magazines who asked for interviews and who understood why I could not bring myself to do them -thank you for your understanding. I spoke to two radio stations- one in New Zealand and one in Australia and did one on camera interview with an agency and that was all I could manage to do. This site with the book says it all until we can get a motion picture out there that does Michael and his legacy justice.
I want to thank all those who continue to support the Walk of Fame fund - Lilli will submit another application in 2008 and I will do anything I have to do to make up the shortfall when we get it through. Lilli Robinson has guided and prodded me through some potential personal minefields, thank you Lilli.
I want to thank the very funny and encouraging Alan Black - he has never failed to lift my spirits and to make me see the funny side of life and living.
Finally, Ricky Watcham is the man. Rickyrocks is the person who has definitely kept things on track -as usual - he gives me orders and suggestions and I hop to it. Someone recently referred to me as HIS boss - couldn't be further from the truth! Ricky runs this site, he designed this site, he made it all happen, he makes most of the important decisions and is very wise with his suggestions. He is the one who keeps physical contact with Tiger -for me. He delivers the gifts and she responds to him. Thank you Ricky for being such a caring, wonderful friend; Michael never knew when he met you, just how important you would become in his little daughter's life...a lifeline to her family.
Thanks to everybody, all those who loved, and continue to love Michael and his music. Please help us keep his flame alive, his legacy burning brightly. Check out the memorial tee shirts - last minute Christmas gift perhaps?
All the best for the new year - a new year to get this movie tribute off the ground -thank you for your support; and peace and love to all. I hope this will be your best year so far.
December 15, 2007