Whitney Houston 1963-2012

I don’t take death like I used to. I take it as a mother.

When I heard about the passing of Whitney Houston, my heart ached for Cissy Houston, the mother who nurtured her, and for Bobbi Kristina, the daughter who lost her mother too soon.

It wasn’t the singing or acting that made me pay attention to Whitney Houston. Sure, it helped. Much of her music was the soundtrack to my life. It was her struggle with addiction, though, that moved me.

I watched my mother struggle with her addiction to alcohol. I watched her touch her personal abyss, and I watched her pull herself out of it. It took decades of falling and getting up and falling again, before my mother finally found the strength to walk away.

I knew it was possible for Whitney to do the same, and I quietly wished she would find her strength. I wished she would get it together, whatever that was, and move on with her life. Days before she passed, I read an article about the upcoming movie “Sparkle,” a remake of the 1976 film starring Irene Cara. In the updated version, Houston stars as the matriarch of aspiring singers who struggle with the effects of stardom.

I read the article twice and studied the accompanying photo. Good for her, I thought. Good. for. her.

The positive news was short-lived. Whitney Houston was found dead at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. It will be weeks before we learn what happened. No matter what you think about Whitney, her music, her movies, and her life, remember she was someone’s daughter and mother. In my mind, that is the real loss.

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