In the wake of Whitney Houston’s death this weekend, I found myself sitting around as shocked as everyone else. I felt I should write about her, but where to even begin? I was overwhelmed and staring at a cursor on a blank Word document. Suddenly, in a lovely bit of kismet, my good friend and fellow writer Orlando Bishop mentioned he’d put together “a little something”–writer-speak for a thoughtful, engaging piece that I immediately begged to repost here. With that, I gratefully introduce my first guest blog entry. Enjoy~
On Sunday morning, at around 5:30, Maya, my six-year-old daughter strolled into the kitchen, where I sat drinking coffee, enjoying a quiet moment with Whitney Houston. She asked what I was listening to, angling toward the TV remote and hoping that she could turn on “Phineas and Ferb” before I decided to watch “SportsCenter.” I answered her, “I’m listening to Whitney Houston. She had a beautiful voice. She died yesterday.”
“Whitney Houston: Dead at 48” The succinct headline states the fact without embellishment, as if the folks over at TMZ knew we could take it from there. The outpouring of emotion after this loss has been and will be enormous, appropriate given the magnitude of Whitney’s talent and stardom. Over the next days, weeks and months, we will see tributes, music videos, status updates… A combination of these, in fact, stirred me to start typing.
I’d been reminded of many of Whitney’s masterpieces on Facebook and elsewhere. I’d grabbed my own iPod as soon as I heard the news. However, it is the song title that stared at me from my friend’s page, the simple question Whitney had infused with exquisite pain and longing so long ago, that lingers: Where Do Broken Hearts Go?
My daughter has been down this road too many times over the course of her short life; she was moved neither by the news nor the note of melancholy in my voice. After all, I’d had my one-man music wakes for Teena Marie, Rick James, Heavy D and, of course, Michael. (In fairness, even my six year old twins knew to care about that one.) As my baby girl settled on my lap, remote in hand, I offered, “After Phineas and Ferb I want to show you some of her music.”
As I gazed down at Maya, her head pressing back against my shoulder, her ever-growing legs stretching on forever–or at least to the next kitchen chair–I immediately thought of Bobbi Kristina. Bobbi Kristina, who hasn’t lost an icon or an idol or a diva, but a mother. I wondered how she was at that very moment. I wondered how she might have learned to manage stress over the years. I wondered…