Debbie Rowe, mother of Michael Jackson’s two eldest children, is holed up at her ranch a couple of hours away from Los Angeles. She can’t leave because paparazzi have been staking out her house since Thursday. It doesn’t matter. She is, as I told you on Thursday’and then lifted from here by TMZ’”inconsolable.”

She told me during a brief conversation today: “I lost my best friend.”

Rowe was married to Jackson when she had Prince Michael I and Paris Katherine. But it was always understood that they’d part. Now, she is in tears missing her friend.

So far, Rowe has’not addressed the issue of the kids or custody despite frantic reports. She wouldn’t do that, she says. “Michael hasn’t even been buried,” she says.’Rowe has always had an excellent relationship with Michael’s mother, Katherine’Jackson,’and looks forward to talking to her soon, and possibly even seeing the children when the time is right.

For right now, though, she’s turned off her phones and Internet, and is trying to observe a period of mourning. How utterly sensible!

One thing I didn’t bring up with Rowe, but shouldn’t be forgotten: her friendship with Michael was the thing that saved him at his child molestation trial in 2005.’ Rowe testified for him in court, clearing up for the jury all misconceptions about the pop icon. Her testimony is generally thought to have been the deciding factor in the jury’s deliberations, and kept Jackson out of jail.

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