The Loss of a Legend Wednesday 15 February, 2012
Whitney Houston died last Saturday afternoon. I still didn’t want to believe it. When I initially found out I was overcome with emotion. I cried, a lot. I’ve actually avoided writing this because I didn’t want to cry again. We’ll see how that goes.
Whitney was everything. She was more than just America’s sweetheart; she was “imaginary auntie” to a generation of little black girls. My first memories of Whitney were of her debut album that my mother played over and over again. I can recall staring at that orange album cover for hours on end. She was young, black, and beautiful and loved by all; everything a little girl could ever dream of becoming.
Most people recognize Whitney for being one of the greatest voices of all time. She broke molds and set standards for what a dynamic singer should strive to be. There was something about Whitney’s voice that hit you in your soul. Her spirit resonated throughout the entire song and long after it was over. You could feel her spirit when she opened her mouth to sing. Whether she was singing R&B, gospel, pop or the national anthem, she was beyond amazing.
What bothers me is that so many people heavily reflect on the lowest moments of Whitney’s life and her struggle with addiction. We can all agree that Whitney, not unlike the rest of us, battled her own personal demons. I applaud her for living a transparent life and acknowledging the fact she was indeed her own worst enemy. She never placed blame for her poor behavior on anyone except herself. She was willing to take accountability for her actions. I like to believe when she needed help the most, she always knew who to call on.
Regardless of Whitney’s rough times and tumultuous marriage, one thing always remained true; she knew when to call on the Lord. Whitney is credited to have won over 400 awards throughout her career. I can recall each time I saw her take a stage to accept, she made it her business to say, “Thank you, Jesus.” And each time it made me smile. No matter, how famous she became, Whitney never forgot her foundation. She knew whose she was, and from where she came. Seeing this is now is rare, but for Whitney it was standard. Albeit short & not the vocal powerhouse we were all accustomed to, even her final live performance was Yes, Jesus Loves Me. That speaks volumes.
When I think of Whitney’s struggles I think of the phrase, “To whom much is given, much is required.” It’s easy for us to sit and speculate about what went wrong in Whitney’s very public life. We all have our own opinions about what we would have done differently or whom we would have dismissed when the road got rough. I give Whitney credit for standing on her two feet and doing exactly what she wanted to do. I think she’d be the first to admit that she didn’t always make the right decisions, but I believe her faith and her spirit of conviction was her driving force.
As for what is to come I can only pray that her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, can find a way to go on. I can’t begin to imagine what it would feel like to lose your mother. Honestly, I believe the pain would be so deep, only God would be able to pull me through it. So I’ll lift that young woman’s name up every day. I pray that her family surrounds her and loves her with their best effort.
I feel sad knowing that someone who had such a great impact on the world seems to have left this world so soon. But I feel comfort in knowing that Whitney is at peace. She knew the Lord for herself, and I trust Him enough to know that it was her time to go home. Although she’s no longer with us, her influence will always remain.
Whitney set the standard; and while there will never be another like her, she left a legacy that we will cherish for generations to come. But there’s far more than musicality that can be taken from Whitney’s life. We need to learn when to support our friends and family during rough times and when to rebuke them for bad behaviors. It’s easy to sit and spectate and inflame a bad situation. But if you aren’t apart of the solution, you’re only adding to the problem.
Most importantly, we must understand that everyone has personal struggles that we deal with on a daily basis. Fortunately, the majority of us don’t have to see those battles played out on the pages of magazines and gossip blogs. Our dirt is most often always private. Anonymity is certainly the highest cost of fame. Whitney Houston paid that price and lived a life that was full of extremes. I choose to celebrate her extreme highs, and learn from her extreme lows. She taught me from an early age that learning to love yourself is indeed the greatest love of all.