It took Shayla awhile to fully comprehend that we were pregnant. For the past couple of days, I've been feeling like I was the only one who was actually happy about it. I've had to comfort Shayla as she cried in a time that I felt should have been nothing but joyous; however, she felt nothing but horrible because she honestly didn't know. She figured if she ever found out she was pregnant she would catch it earlier than a month, but these kinds of things happen differently for people. I've had to support and comfort my wife in more ways than one to get her to understand that it's okay that she didn't know. Pregnancy isn't always planned and there are so many different factors to it. It took her a while, but she's finally beginning to stop being upset with herself. There was nothing to be upset with herself over, but it took a while for me to get her to understand that.
I find myself asking if she's okay to do just about everything now. We had to fly to New York for my upcoming album, and I was so nervous that I wanted to drive, but our new midwife promised us that it was perfectly fine to fly. Everything I do now is for the safety of not only my wife but my child. If anyone as much as looks at my wife the wrong way, we're going to have problems. I've only dreamed of being a father. I don't think I've always been ready, but in recent years, I think I'm more ready than before. Shayla swears that I'm more careful than she is. Why shouldn't I be? I want the absolute best for my wife and my child.
When we told our families, they couldn't have been any happier. From my side of the family, they were excited to have another addition to the family. Toya, Janet and I are the only ones on my side of the family to not have children. I don't see Toya having any with that Jack fellow. And I don't think Janet is thinking of having any children right now because she's in her prime. My family knows how long I've wanted to be a father and now it's finally happening...
For Shayla's family, they were ecstatic, but it came off as "FINALLY!" They've been waiting all these years for us to have children and now they're finally going to get a child from us. Mom cried because she had been begging us to have children for years. Shayla's brothers didn't care too much but were happy as well. It was mainly her parents. I'm just glad that our families are happy for us. I always knew they would be. But to see it is just a totally different story. All there is is to announce it to the world at this point.
"Hey, Shayla! Hey, Michael! What brings you all in today?" Shana asked as we walked into Sandy's building.
"Is Sandy available? I know it's short notice, but I've got something to tell him." I told her as I pressed the button on the elevator to go up.
"He'll actually be out of a meeting shortly. I'll let him know you're coming up though." She said as she picked up the phone.
"Thank you!" Shayla called as we entered the elevator.
"You know we've got to tell him, right?" I rubbed Shayla's belly.
"Of course, we're going to tell him. I didn't think otherwise."
"I'm just making sure you know. Things are finally coming back together, and I want to make sure we're communicating well with one another."
"I know, Michael. Trust me." She rolled her eyes playfully. There's a different glow to my wife and I swear she's more beautiful than before. After eleven years, she's finally having my child. I'm still in shock. It feels like a dream.
The elevator doors opened to Sandy's floor just in time as he was finishing up a meeting with a blond up and coming actor, I had seen around the office lately. I can't remember his name for the life of me. All these blond actors look the same.
"Hey, Michael!" The blond actor waved.
"Remind me of your name again," I told him. Everyone in California begins to look the same at one point or another. I can't keep up with names when everyone looks alike.
"Brad. Remember I told you and your wife about a comedy I had just finished." He reminded me.
"I remember, Brad. Michael and I went to see it after you told us about it. Don't mind him. He can be bad with names sometimes. You did great in the film though!" Shayla smiled.
"Thank you, Mrs. Jackson. That means a lot coming from you. My life has been made, you know that, right? I was just complimented by Mrs. Jackson." He laughed to himself as he made his way to the elevator. "See you all soon!" He waved.
"How could you forget Brad?" Shayla begged to know. "He's such a sweetheart."
"All these blond actors look the same, babe. Tell these white boys to go for a different look." We laughed as we made our way into Sandy's office.
"The prodigal children have returned!" Sandy greeted us as we went to sit down. "I literally haven't seen you all in a year. It's been nothing but voices through some form of technology and now I can finally see your beautiful faces in the flesh! Shayla..." He smirked and looked my wife up and down. "You've got a glow on you. What's going on?" Shayla blushed, her lips twisting to the side.
"We're pregnant, Sandy," I announced for the both of us.
"We?! Last time I checked; Shayla would be the one doing the pushing. Not you."
"Yeah, well, she didn't get pregnant on her own." I laughed, rolling my eyes.
"How far along are you?" He asked Shayla.
"Six weeks." She nodded.
Sandy's eyes practically fell out of his head. "Six weeks and you guys are just now telling me?! Pitiful! Here I thought I'd be a great godparent or an Uncle in spirit, and I'm only just now finding out."
"In our defense," I held my hands up in surrender. "We found out two weeks ago."
"You guys are terrible. I should have been one of the first to know!" He sat down in his seat. "What are you all even here for? To torture me about being one of the last to know?"
"Sandy, you know we love you." Shayla laughed. "You're not the last to know. We've still got a couple of other people to tell anyway."
"Mmm, I guess." He groaned. "Anyway, on a serious note, what brings you all in here unannounced?"
"Hey, I thought we agreed on an open-door policy?" I asked.
"You do. I'm just kidding around. What's up?"
"Now that everything has blown over, we think it's time to pick up right where we left off," I told him.
"Let me get out your file," he dramatically pulled out his notebook and blew imaginary dust off of it. "Yeah, it's been that long." We laughed. "Last time I spoke to you guys about that, we canceled the joint interview with Oprah Winfrey. We still don't associate ourselves with Oprah, right?"
"That's right." Shayla nodded.
"Her people have been calling a lot. They want the ins and outs of everything that's going on between you two and the case."
"Yeah, well, she blew it a long time ago."
"You're right. Moving along... Ebony. We were talking about them. Should I give them a date now?"
"Absolutely!" I nodded in agreement. "They'll be the only ones to get a full-blown interview and photoshoot from us. Everyone else will probably get a short story and a photoshoot. It's only right."
"Can we make it this weekend?"
"I'll see what I can do." Sandy wrote in his notebook. "Are we doing any TV interviews yet?"
"No. We just need print right now."
"Gotcha." He nodded. "And are we announcing the child too or...?"
"No." Shayla interrupted me.
I turned to look at her. "No?"
"No." She shook her head.
"Why not? We should share our pregnancy with the world! Our fans want to know. And besides, it'll shed some new light on us."
She continued to shake her head no. "I'm already nervous about doing all this publicity stuff with you after everything that went down. Can't we keep the pregnancy to ourselves? We can announce it when I give birth."
"Nervous about what? And besides, the world is going to see your bump anyway."
She shrugged. "So. Let them see. I don't want to confirm anything with the world yet. I just want to keep this to ourselves. Can't we have some privacy around our lives right now? I get you're excited, but I'd rather wait until the baby is born, okay?" I can't believe what I'm hearing right now. Is this what I'm going to have to put up with the entire pregnancy? Two weeks ago, she was crying about not knowing she was pregnant. After that, she was happy to announce it to everyone we knew. Now all of a sudden, she wants to keep this to ourselves? I'm happy. She's happy. Our families are happy. Why can't our fans be happy for us too?
"You really don't want to announce the pregnancy?" I asked her again for clarity.
"No. I really don't." She looked me in the eye. I sighed and turned back to Sandy.
"So... no?" He asked me.
I shook my head. "Guess that's a no."
"Alright then. I'll get Ebony on your schedule for this weekend. What other photoshoots are we doing? We decided on Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, and Vogue. Only the upper echelon. Everyone else beneath those four had terrible things to say about my wife and me last year and this year. Why give them the opportunity to shoot with us and get a couple of words out of us? It's only right we pick and choose who we're working with. The rest of the month will be booked for us. We've yet to decide who we're doing the television interview with. It'll come eventually. Whoever we decide to do it with, I know they'll be ten times better than Oprah. I still can't believe she did what she did to me. But I'm going to let bygones be bygones and continue to move on. The media has always shown its true colors when it came to me, but I know who to truly work with now.
"Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, show us you love each other. Caress her face, Michael... That's it! That's the shot!" The photographer said in excitement as Shayla and I posed for the camera. Shayla decided that we should wear white with gold accents for the Ebony photoshoot. I desperately wanted to do red or black, but she insisted on the white and gold. It was refreshing. Chic. And most importantly, it made a statement. It would make a long-lasting statement for sure. In the past, I would wear white all the time, but in recent years I stuck to red or black. Sometimes even both. Although I wanted to wear color, we did look good. Shayla looked like a tall glass of milk in her white dress. She wasn't really showing at six weeks, but even if she were, the dress did a great job of not putting too much attention on her stomach. Her hair was in its natural curly afro state, untamed and tall for the entire world to recognize. In comparison to my wife, I think I look alright. Shayla was really the star of the show even though she didn't really care for the photoshoot. She's been taking excellent photos, but throughout the day she's been nothing but quiet and in her own head. I've tried to get her to explain what's going on, but she continues to say nothing is wrong with her. It's probably just the pregnancy hormones.
"When I grow up, I want my marriage to look as beautiful as these photos right now." The photographer continued to compliment us as we switched into a different pose. Whatever photo we really liked would be on the cover of all Ebony magazine covers in October. The world might have thought they had something to talk about last time they saw us, but they're really going to have something to say when this edition drops.
"Can we take about thirty minutes so we can get started with the interview? They are our cover story, ya know?" Robert Johnson interrupted.
"Take thirty!" The photographer shouted to everyone. I took Shayla's hand in mine and led her over to where Robert was waiting for us.
"You all look amazing by the way!" Robert said as we sat down.
"Thank you." Shayla gave a small smile. She was either nervous or just over it. I don't know, but I kept her hand in mine so as to calm her nerves.
"Can I just say we're honored that you all chose us to do your exclusive spread?"
"I love Ebony. You know that, Robert. Come on." I laughed. "Ebony has been nothing but good to me and my family. There was no way we were going to give this exclusive to someone else."
"Well, we're honored." He smiled as he looked down at his notes. "First off, how did you all meet?" He looked between Shayla and me.
I looked at Shayla who in turn looked at me. "You want me to or...?" I asked her.
"You got it." She told me.
"My wife is shy as you can tell," I laughed. "But, um, she actually wrote a letter for me when she was in high school. I was twenty at the time and she was just about to turn nineteen. So, this is around... what, baby?" I asked her.
"Seventy-nine." She nodded.
"Right! Seventy-nine. 'Off the Wall' was getting ready to come out and I got a letter from a girl all the way from Ohio." I laughed and looked at Shayla who still had that same small smile on her face. It was clear something was wrong. Something was on her mind and she wouldn't tell me, but she saved face by keeping that small smile on. "We wrote a couple of letters back and forth until I stopped receiving her letters, so I eventually sent her my number. She didn't call me for a while. Come to find out, she went onto college. Somewhere along those lines, I invited her to stay with me and my family in Encino."
"The matriarch of the family didn't have a problem with that?" Robert asked me.
I shook my head no. "My mother was more than welcoming. She loved having Shayla around. So, imagine how she felt when I asked Shayla to marry me." I smiled.
"So, you all met when you were young. How did he propose, Shayla?"
She cleared her throat. "It actually took him a long time to propose. So, we met in seventy-nine both in letter and face to face. Then we lost contact for a while. When we finally got back in contact, this was during the 'Thriller' craze. I thought he was dating the girl from the video and I was beginning to move on with my life and career... He popped the question shortly after we got back in contact. It was short and sweet. He asked me over the phone right after I had gotten in from a date with another guy."
"Hold on." I stopped her. "You told me that wasn't a date."
"I mean..." she shrugged. "Looking back on it, it was."
"Carry on." I rolled my eyes as Robert laughed at our interaction.
"He popped the question and I said yes. But when he came to visit me the next day, he asked me again... the right way." Her smile was a little bit bigger than before.
"Just two normal people. Wow. I mean, it's Michael Jackson! I'd expect fireworks or some shit during his proposal." Robert laughed.
"I can be extraordinary sometimes and I can be simple sometimes." I shrugged. "Shayla wasn't all about the glitz and glamour back then anyway." We continued to explain our early marriage and how we managed to keep things quiet for ten years. I did most of the talking with Shayla chiming in every once in a while. Robert enjoyed the interview no matter what. He sure would have a lot to print.
"You and Shayla have been together all this time. Your marriage is normal in more ways than one. You love each other unconditionally... Last year, when you had all these allegations toward you, how did that affect your marriage?"
I sighed. "You know, I was on tour and it just seemed like I was in Armageddon. Armageddon in the brains, ya know? All these horrible stories were going around about me. None of it was true. It was unbelievable. But Shayla was there. The whole way through. She would cry with me. She was just as upset as I was. I mean, we'd known each other for fourteen years at the time. Married for ten of those years. This woman knows everything about me. She knows the ins and outs. She knows when I'm truly happy or really upset. This woman knows me and loves me for who I am. All I wanted to do was help this family, and – I'm not supposed to talk about this case, by the way. I'm just telling you how my wife helped me through it. My wife saw right through them and told me to stop trying to help them. I didn't listen and did anyway. And then... That whole thing happened. And even though she was right all along, she didn't shove that in my face. She continued to support me. She was there for me through it all. When I went into rehab... She was there. When those... pictures... were taken of me. She was there. My wife was there. She may be behind the scenes, but she's always there and she's loved me through it all. So, it affected our marriage, but if anything, it made our marriage stronger." I looked over at Shayla and leaned over to kiss her. "This woman means the world to me. Please print that."
Robert smiled and wrote it down in his notebook. "I will." He continued to scrawl notes down. "Any plans for children?"
I smiled and looked down. "It's already happening." I paused for a moment, then added, "I want more children than my father has." We continued to discuss our relationship and what the future might hold for us. This interview is probably the best I've ever done. I didn't know how exciting sitting down and talking about our lives with my wife would be. It truly meant the world. It's crazy though because while it meant the world to me, it didn't mean a thing to Shayla. She was still in her own head just going with the motions.
Author's Note: A teeny tiny portion of the interview is from the October 1994 edition of Ebony magazine that featured an interview with Michael Jackson on his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley.
If you're a history nerd like me and like to read old magazines, you can find the edition on Google Books.