Sunday, February 12, 2012

Goodbye, Whitney

My husband is at church. My daughter is at a sleepover, having helped throw one of the six a 19th birthday party last night, and I am here alone in my house on this Sunday morning, listening to Whitney Houston as the tears fall down. It is more than that she takes me back to a particular time in my life when I was young and poetically lonely and she was brilliant company on the record player. It is more than the fact that at our wedding party we danced to her songs. It is that she didn't make it after all. She spent her whole life in the grip of her addiction, and she never managed to get on top of it for long. She wasn't victorious in that fight. In the end, she went down for the count. How amazing the work she did in spite of it.

My cousin Helen, a healer, firmly believes that we each come here with a life script, and we make deals before we are born with our supporting cast of characters, usually souls we have loved over many lifetimes, just as they make deals with us to support the life script they have chosen, so we each can learn the spiritual lessons we have set for ourselves. She believes children choose their parents and choose the path they will travel. She believes our addicted cousin Pearl (not her real name) is living the life she chose for herself. She chose to do it the hard way, Helen says, but make no mistake, she is learning, and she is teaching, too.

Here's a strange thing: Whitney in that photo from her debut album cover looks like my cousin Pearl. I am sure some of the sorrow I am feeling this morning is for Pearl's struggle, too.

I have not felt like writing much lately, words feel stuck, and yet this morning, when my heart is aching for the loss of Whitney, aching for her mother Cissy and her daughter Bobbi Kristina, this is where I have come. You are the ones I know I can I tell. Thank you.


  1. Yes, yes we are.

    It's her daughter I keep thinking of as well.

  2. It's so strange how the deaths of certain people affect us so personally. I was just talking the other day about how when Clarance Big Man Clemmons died, I just cried and cried and cried. And of course, since we do not really know these people, we are mourning for whatever part of our lives they represent. And yes, we do mourn for them, their very own special selves, too. And those they leave behind. Yes. Maybe that most of all.
    I don't know if I agree with your cousin. She may be right. But it is my belief that all religions and beliefs are based partly on our own very human need to understand deep and seemingly unexplainable pain and also death. As such, Helen's belief is as good as any I know.

  3. this is such a moving tribute. i believe every word of it. such a wonderful talent who really seemed to have everything going for her.

  4. I have a sense of a life never lived but a role played, a constructed fiction in conflict with the real. Who was Whitney?

  5. this is beautiful, angela.

    last night, when i saw the bulletin online, i really didn't believe it. it took some time. and when i thought it was really true, i sent a text to my daughter, who i knew to be at a club in kansas city, to tell her.

    she replied, "omg whitney. OMG! WHITNEY!!!" and that was when i cried.

    she grew up with her voice as a soundtrack. more than anything, whitney's voice makes me think of my own girl, playing her music on her little barbie cassette player and dancing and dancing and dancing.

    i sort of feel as i have when someone with a long and painful terminal illness has finally let go - great, great sadness, but no shock.

    i pray for her peace.

    listen to this. her voice alone. it's astonishing. really.

  6. I remember when I was going to NYU, I read that Whitney and I were born the same year. So, it made me think about her journey and her success compared with mine. I was starving, struggling and she was on top of the world. Her voice was transcendent. Her beauty breathtaking. That can't be denied. Her death is shocking. Her journey has ended but she made a huge impact on the world. And being that we were the same age, I can state she was far too young.

  7. What a beautiful and personal tribute --

    She was almost exactly my age, so if feels very weird -- to have lived this long, this hard --

  8. Thank you. I was astonished really how hard this news hit me last night. Blessings to Pearl. I hope she makes it.

  9. Your eulogy to Whitney is better than anything I've heard or read and there has been a lot. You have such a big wise heart. You've traveled this world before. I love you

  10. You know, I get that addiction is well, addiction,
    but I also get that sometimes people just don't think they what they need to fill some void in their soul. A love, a validation, something.
    It's complicated obviously, and sad and a waste and not me and yet is.

  11. I'm with your cousin Helen on this one. How else to explain that we are who we are from the very beginning?
    This news hit me where I live.
    Life is hard.

  12. Just wanted to say that your words about your healer-cousin stayed with me all day, prompting an inner conversation, questions, searching for answers.

    Thank-you for this.

  13. Thank you for your blog..Just wanted to say so many feel the same way you do...Losing Whitney feels so personal..I have witnessed "the voice" in concert 4 times between 1986 and 1994....I guess I was addicted to her talent...Why did she not protect her God given voice?.I cry when I listen to the music she left behind.that this angelic voice has been silenced..And when you look at the magnitude of her career. (It is all there on YouTube) ..All the many live performances..concerts, videos, shoots..interviews..How did she have the energy to do it all ( I think we can guess)..To keep giving and giving...dealing with all the pressure..the crazy fans..the stalkers..the paparazzi..the evil tabloids that are still exploiting her dead body!..Whitney gave and gave ...and we took and now she leaves behind this cruel world..and I pray that there are no more struggles and insanity in heaven!