Because my adoration for Whitney Houston is well documented, people have been offering their condolences to me, which is a little weird (it's not like I knew her better than anyone!) but entirely nice. I'm OK! Sad, for sure, but it's easy to find tangents of perfection, beauty and hilarity to distract yourself with when reminsicing about Whitney Houston. Here was someone so gorgeous, her warts were attractive.
To think of anyone's life as a cautionary tale is condescending (true acceptance includes flaws) and selective. Unless you are model-pretty with the best voice on the planet and have been rewarded for both with international celebrity, Whitney's complicated story doesn't apply to you. The best we could ever do was admire it from afar, the worst we could do is reduce it to a one-sentence moral. What can you learn from Whitney's addiction that Nancy Regan didn't teach you almost 30 years ago?
I was really looking forward to watching Whitney turn into a crazy old lady. The fun she already was predicted the fun she would have been! I was also looking forward to her comeback, which for the last decade, flirted with the horizon. Selfishly, I feel cheated out of some great chapters, but the early ones are rich enough to provide a lot of solace.
I've been pondering the thematic line in Whitney's "Didn't We Almost Have It All": "The ride with you was worth the fall, my friend." It seems like it should apply here, and it almost does. Jon Caramanica said it really well (with eerie prophecy) days before those pictures of Whitney looking disheveled outside of Kelly Price's party surfaced: "To be Whitney now, you had to be Whitney then." A life is over, and Whitney wore it so publicly that we now know exactly what we are missing. Nothing is "worth" someone's death, but I feel so fortunate to have shared some of Whitney's life.
I wrote a more formal tribute for work. During my research scramble, I rewatched a lot of her 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey, which was just so wonderful and comprehensive that it's about as close to a memoir as we got from Whitney. The part of the interview that affected me the most during my review was the discussion on the death of Michael Jackson, which affected Whitney so greatly that she teared up during her recollection. Watching this in light of her death, I felt a weird unity with this distant star and so much farther away.