What a weird week. Globally, of course, the world is reeling from the unexpected death of pop icon Michael Jackson. I remember having a discussion with someone about who was the most well-known person around the world, and we settled on MJ. How bizarre that someone with that much notoriety, that much at his disposal, seemed to have had such an unhappy life, and definitely had an abrupt ending.

One of my first records ever was the Jackson 5‘s Greatest Hits. I was so young I scrawled my name–only my first name, mind you, since I couldn’t yet spell “McLaughlin”–across the front cover. I listened to that record a whole lot, and bought Jackson 5 45s later on with my allowance.

I remember when Elvis Presley died; I was about to be 13, and I just didn’t get the whole deal, why people were so upset and all (I grew up in a musical household, but we were more likely to be listening to Arthur Crudup, from whom Elvis lifted a lot of his songs).

I get it now, though.

The death of an icon makes us reflect, perhaps selfishly, on our own mortality. Which of my childhood touchstones will be next?

And next month is my son’s tenth birthday, although we are having his birthday party this Saturday (pray for me . . . ). That reminds me just how much has happened, and how he’s not my little boy anymore. Thankfully, he still likes getting hugs from his mom. But who knows when that will change? And who will his childhood touchstones be?

Maybe, to bring it back around to the books we love to read, that is why we love to read romance: It depicts a crystallized moment in time where the main characters are young, interesting and, we presume, destined to have a long, happy life together.

What are you thinking about today?