It hit me so hard.
It had to be a joke. Or a rumor. It wasn’t real.
I frantically searched for a real headline or some kind of legit breaking news. But I honestly didn’t want to see it. Not in big, bold, official letters. But I did, “Whitney Houston, 48, found dead.”
Wait, what? How? What happened?
I broke down crying immediately. Overtaken by grief and disbelief. Again, frantically searching for someone to say it wasn’t true. My mind flooded with memories as my TV flooded with pictures of Whitney.
For me, Whitney Houston embodied one of the greatest examples of what we ALL experience through this journey. Success, triumph, defeat, struggle, resilience, denial, disappointment and love. I watched her with grace. If there was a celebrity I constantly prayed for or thought of, it was Whitney. I was always praying she’d bounce back and not just with a music career. That somehow her personal journey to truly get back to herself would end in overwhelming success in being in a better state of mind and body. Selfishly, I wanted the “old Whitney” back.
Tears well up in my eyes again as I think about how much I wanted to be like Whitney. Sing like her. To open my mouth and have angels sing through me. I remember being in middle school and my best friend and I would put on “The Bodyguard” soundtrack so we could “practice” all the songs and perform them. For who? We didn’t know. We just wanted to be like Whitney. (I was always Whitney during our “Queen of the Night” performance. You couldn’t tell me nothin!)
My freshman year in high school, I joined the praise dance team at my church. The very first song we practiced and performed for the church was “I Love the Lord” from the Preacher’s Wife soundtrack. I was only about 13, but when I was at home and at church with the song on repeat, learning the moves and remembering my routine, Whitney’s voice and prayer woke up my understanding of God. It was as if Whitney, herself, assured me that the God I believed in would always be there for me. And He is. Each time we performed it, at the end, I’d be crying so hard. That song filled my heart with so much hope. And now, I only want to hear Whitney sing it in her beautiful voice. Whitney loved the Lord and that love was easy to see and feel.
While I still can’t fully swallow this news, my heart is so broken for Bobbi Kristina, Whitney’s mother Cissy and her close friends. Those who saw and knew Whitney’s heart and witnessed her repeatedly rise and fall, my sadness is for them. They’ll never be the same. WE’LL never be the same. We are now without an angel here on earth. Whitney has gone to rest peacefully with the Lord. And I find a sliver of peace in that. I’ve stopped trying to figure out why this particular celebrity death has hit me so hard and why I’m so hurt. The fact is, Whitney meant a lot to me. She showed me that if I have a gift, live in it with all my might. She showed me that when you display your talent, it should be effortless. Your gift should speak to people and change them forever. Whitney taught me that success and money don’t get rid of your demons and that the journey back to normalcy doesn’t come instantly.
I love you, Whitney. I’ll miss you. Rest in eternal peace.