Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas 2017 - one year on

A tribute to George Michael in Paradiso (Amsterdam), January 2017

It's a cliche for a reason, because I really do remember the moment I heard about George Michael's death like it was yesterday.  It was in the early hours of Boxing Day 2016 that I got the dreadful news. We were staying at a hotel, my wife had taken our little  dog for a quick midnight walkies and upon return looked at her phone. George was all over the news of course. She woke me and said "Honey, George is dead" and promptly burst into tears. My own tears would only really start flowing a few days later, when the news finally sank in. That first night I just sighed deeply, sent a sad Whatsapp message to my friend and fellow George Michael fan Anne of GMNL and went on Facebook to share the news. My first posts didn't make any sense whatsoever as I was still in shock.

We're one year on

"We're one year on" . These last few weeks that one phrase has been running through my mind on a loop. I'm a true 80's girl at heart, like most George Michael fans I guess. The bad fashion and even worse hair cuts, we lived through it all.

I remember when the original Do They Know It's Christmas came out, some of us buying more than one copy to boost sales. Over the years there have been quite a few of versions of that song, all of them nowhere as special and charming in all its 80's cheesiness as the original. But there's one version that many people may not be familiar with, it's a re-release of the original with Sir Bob reminding us that we're one year on and Midge Ure telling us in voice over exactly what was bought with the money the charity single raised. It is a simple but unique concept and it still gives me chills - for some reason it's powerful stuff. If you've never heard it, have a listen here.

So yes, we're one year on. A year where my little family suffered some losses, big and small. And beneath it all was the dull ache of losing George. In time I came to realise that it was losing all the might-have-beens that hurt the most. Death robbed us of so many wonderful things George might have done. Release a new album or two and perhaps go on tour again, or finally prove those rumours true and become a judge on some reality TV show, perhaps even nurture a raw talent the way Sir Elton took Ed Sheeran under his wing: all those possible futures gone.

A year without George

Today it's one year ago that George Michael left us. There is still so much material from or about George that I haven't watched or listened to yet. His last documentary Freedom, by all accounts a worthy tribute, I haven't seen it yet. The last interview George ever gave, I haven't listened to it yet.

Even listening to George's music and hearing his amazing voice again was too painful this last year. With one glorious and happy exception. I was lucky enough to be present at the photo-shoot Universal Music organised to celebrate the re-release of Listen Without Prejudice. On a dreary Saturday in October we all travelled to a gym in Haarlem to re-create the famous cover of LWP. You can see a nice video of the shoot here.

Some of the fans were brave enough to come in swim wear, the rest of us dressed up more warmly (and modestly). It was great fun, being once again in the company of so many George Michael fans. There was a lot of hugging and kissing going on; many of us knew each other.

The famous GM8 having fun together.

We got bossed around by the director of the shoot and the little stereo provided a steady stream of George's songs. Freedom was a hit with the small crowd, like it always is. I forgot I had a headache (at that time I was recovering from a mild concussion) and when the director asked us to dance to the music I sang and danced along with everyone.
And all of a sudden I realised, I'm actually quite happy right now. From that moment on I knew it would be alright in the end. Little by little this feeling of grief will become more bearable and one day soon I will put on some George music and it won't hurt anymore.

We're one year on - and what remains is love.  

There's still so much love for George Michael. A quick look at all the Facebook groups dedicated to his memory show he lives on in the hearts of thousands of fans who love him. His beautiful Memorial Garden in North London is still lovingly maintained. His classic Christmas song Last Christmas made it into the top 3 of the UK chart, 33 years after it was first released.

George Michael Memorial Garden, a few days after what would have been his 54th birthday

So I've finally stopped worrying about George. It took me a long time, I used to worry so much about him it was a habit I couldn't break even after he passed. But now I finally feel that wherever his soul is, he is at peace and surrounded by love.

Today I will say a little prayer today for George's dad and sisters, his friends and anyone who loved him. That we all may be comforted by how much George is still loved. Because in the end, love is all we have left, and love is all that matters. It is enough.

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