This weekend is surreal. I’m bar tending a birthday event on Friday night. The party is really quiet & VH1 Soul plays on the flat screen TV’s. Mary J Blidge, Prince even LL Cool J. This leads the staff to talking about Mary & how she’s matured & gotten sober. We quickly compare/contrast her to Whitney with the drug addiction issues. We then moved seamlessly right along to how incredible what LL Cool J has done in his career is. The party starts to get busier & we all go off to our posts of duty.
I get on a plane to go visit my family at my sister’s house down south hours after this party ends. My niece turns two & my nephew is Christened in the same weekend! My parents are still here visiting the U.S. Yay Family!!! I get a call from the bar owner Saturday night. I’m thinking, he cannot be calling me to come in, he knows I’m with my family. “What were we talking about last night?” He asks. “Mary, LL being a legend… Why?”, I say. “Whitney Houston died today.” My brain cannot compute. We small talk until I am able to get the television to CNN.
I’m washed over with this SADNESS. I am surprised by the sadness. I want to cry. Eventually I give into it & I do. Seriously. But why?
I am not a singer. I don’t know her like her best friend Robyn did. But growing up I did want to be a model for a while. No one told me that being the tallest one in my house at 5’4 didn’t make me tall enough to be a run way model :-). Then, here comes this beautiful brown lady who can sing like no one else. She used to be a model, ya know? What? A young woman from regular ole New Jersey, whose brown like me became a successful model & now is a mega singing star?
Anything is possible. As a child, some little quiet voice inside me always would whisper this. The message is solidified again just from Whitney Houston being Whitney Houston. She is our Idol. In a sea full of images of beauty & success that looked nothing like me, here is Whitney Houston. Her being an addict crosses my mind only to say a prayer that she did not overdose. I mourn for the symbol of limitless possibilities she represents to me as a little girl. The little girl in me knows nothing of nepotism, luck or the trying politics of being in the entertainment industry. That Whitney was an addict represents to me nothing more or less than her human imperfection. We all have them. We just get to keep ours secret.
I see so many posts insulting people for being so sorrow filled over her death. What about the soldiers, what about the junkie we pass on the street, ugh celebrities, what about the polar bears, what about the starving children, etc. You get to feel that way. I get to feel differently about it as well. That I am saddened by her death does not mean that I do not support soldiers, while being against war. It doesn’t mean that I do not offer up a blessing & a prayer for almost every addict I pass. I grew up in a neighborhood that was hit hard with crack addiction. I know personally & still meet people from time to time who lost parents to the epidemic. Please, trust me, when I say that I feel badly for any addict. It does not negate the countless tears I’ve shed & prayers put up about the injustices of the world. That’s a stretch don’t you think? I don’t think she’s a martyr. I respect Whitney’s celebrity because it impacted my little girl life in a profoundly positive way.
She was a big sister, in my mind, helping me get through first heart breaks as well as crushes. All I needed was a hair brush, Whitney playing & I could sang! I’d stare at the Whitney Houston orange album cover in awe of her beauty. I’d sing her songs while I washed dishes, pretending to be a super star. I’d sing her songs with my little sister as we watched our prized VHS tape (google it youngsters hahaha) which we recorded all of our favorite music videos on. All she had to do was stand there & sing: not lip sync, not be naked, not have huge sets built, just sing.
I know many an entertainer or entrepreneur who still talk of “when I blow up” then I’ll fill in the blank. Here is a perfect example of how it is possible, sometimes, to outwardly appear to “have it all” & not. Despite, all the outer trappings of wealth & success, there still was some pain inside that could not be healed. This makes me profoundly sad. I cry for Whitney as a representation of anyone who feels they have to be strong rather than take care of their inner health. I cry for what she felt she had to keep inside for the sake of “image”. I cry for Whitney because I know the pain of feeling like you have to hold it all together when inside it is not all together. I am not & never have been responsible for scores of salaries like a Whitney. I cannot even imagine the added pressure to maintain that that creates. I remember being enlightened about that fact in Nina Simone’s autobiography ‘I Put A Spell on You’. I cry for her daughter as a symbol of any young person losing a parent that young. I cry for Whitney as a visible symbol of what not being mentally, physically & spiritually healthy can do to any human.
Live your bliss now. I promise you, it may not look anything like the way you day dreamed about it being when younger. The path may be unexpected. However, please know that living your bliss is possible now.
Take good care of yourselves inside out.
*hugs & light* to all, Essence Revealed.
- RIP Whitney Houston | Kevin Powell (guardian.co.uk)
- So Sad: Wendy Williams Gets Emotional Over Whitney Houston, Reveals Being A Former Crack Addict (dabxblogger.com)