I absolutely adore you and have always loved the essence of your spirit! As a teenager, I dreamed of being on stage performing as a musical artist, and you were the goddess I sought to emulate. Up there with Michael Jackson, you have always ranked high as one of my favorite artists of all time. I absolutely loved and still love you!
I recall sitting in front of the television for hours watching videos, waiting to catch a glimpse of you. I experienced such delight watching you on the television screen. Your music and videos totally captivated me! “The Greatest Love of All” with your all black outfit and that dark lipstick (the lipstick–so unique!), “How Will I Know” with your beautiful smile on that colorful set, and “I Want to Dance with Somebody” (my all-time favorite) with your playful antics and stunning stage presence, all exhilarated me. Each time I watched those videos, I felt you and your spirit jump through the television and fill my soul with excitement and joy!
Whitney, I have shared some of my fondest life memories with you! While I was attending graduate school in Austin, I occasionally had family in town. One weekend in 1994, my Uncle Lou came to town and we spent the evening watching you in “Whitney – The Concert for a New South Africa.” Through this concert performance you honored President Nelson Mandela and the newly unified South Africa, becoming the first major artist to visit the newly unified and apartheid free nation following Mandela’s election. It was truly a historical moment and I was glad to share it with you! I absolutely loved your dancers, the musicians–among them my favorite saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and the entire production! In fact, I taped that concert and have watched it many times over the years. One of my last and most memorable moments with my maternal grandmother in Brownwood was watching you in concert on television, performing at Constitution Hall in DC in 1997. Maw and I were so amazed by your duo with husband Bobby Brown, as you did a tribute to Sammy Davis, Jr., with Bobby dancing to “Bojangles.” We loved it! My grandmother and I sat talking together and watching that concert. She passed the following summer.
I was brokenhearted when your career took a downward spin. Much of what I read and saw on television attributed this development to substance abuse. I must admit I waited patiently for you to come out of that phase and resume your throne. As a matter of fact, I always told myself that if I ever saw you, I would attempt to speed up the process by telling you to hurry up and get off that stuff, so that you could create more wonderful memories for me as well as many others, who I know you touched as well. After your interview with Oprah in 2009, I celebrated that you were finally back. Whitney, I was right there rooting for you!
My hopes were shattered when I recently saw you at the Atlanta Airport in October 2011. Your condition confounded me. I was so disturbed that it took everything in me not to breakdown in the airport. It hurt me immensely–more than I can express–to see you in that condition. In fact, that day my husband posted on his Facebook page, “…Please pray for Whitney.”
On the evening of February 11, my youngest sister texted me during the middle of the Chris Botti concert with the Atlanta Symphony to inform me of your transition. I cried right there in the concert. During the entire week my heart and I cried so much that I didn’t know what to do. As a matter of fact, I am crying as I write this blog.
I wanted immensely for you to beat that addiction. What has upset and shaken me so is that I just cannot understand how someone with so much Light, with so much of God’s favor, with so much talent, with such a platform, with so much reach, and who is loved so much by so many, could allow herself to succumb to dark forces. Why did you let the dark side dim your Light and ultimately put it out? Again, I cry trying to answer that question for my own peace of mind.
During the same time of your homegoing celebration, I was attending and presenting workshops at the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute 30th Annual Conference in Chicago. I watched as much of the ceremony as I could before going to present my workshop. I finally had the opportunity to watch it in its entirety this week. Of course, I cried throughout the ceremony as well.
Whitney, your gift has brought me immense joy, and your life has taught me several lessons. On a practical level, your life has taught me the dangers of substance abuse. More importantly, on a spiritual level, your life has taught me the value of embracing, appreciating and magnifying my own Light, never fearing, devaluing or diminishing it. Additionally, I must guard my Light and not allow anything or anyone–myself included–to ever threaten it. You have taught me to sharpen my spiritual sword, knowing that the brighter my Light the harder dark forces will attempt to dim it. (Ephesians 6:12) Finally, despite the fact that many–myself included–always want to blame outside forces for our situations (i.e. “dark forces”), I have learned that ultimately much of the life we live is a matter of choice. I must make good life choices, knowing that the choices I make not only shape my own life, but also impact the lives of others.
Whitney, I write this letter to you to let you know how much I love you and how much love and joy you have brought into my life. Thank you so much for all of your incredible music and, of course, those wonderful memories. I want you to know that despite your personal challenges and struggles, you have always been loved. Thank you so much for being a Light in this world. Your Light has undeniably impacted my own. Whitney Houston, I want you to know, I love you!