Didn’t she almost have it all?

I remember the first time I heard her sing.

I was a senior in high school and my friend, Pam, announced that she’d seen the most amazing video on MTV the night before.

“Come over to my house later and we’ll watch it!” she exclaimed, seeing how at the time she was the only person I knew who had cable television, the new channel called MTV and a video cassette recorder.

As soon as the school day was finished, we headed to Pam’s, to watch this video by someone named Whitney Houston.

Pam rewound the tape and we suddenly saw the most beautiful young woman. She was tall and muscular, with this incredibly full head of contemporary curly hair. And her voice knocked us off our feet.

We watched the video over and over, and excitedly turned up the radio each and every time our new favorite was played.

It didn’t take long for each of us to own a copy of Whitney Houston’s first album . . . and it was a no-brainer when my senior class chose “The Greatest Love of All” as the gut-wrenching song for our parent-rose presentations at graduation.

We soon found ourselves moving into a new fashion mode, as we tried to copy Whitney’s combination of denim, leather, pastels and white T-shirts.

Along the way, as we grew up, song after song, Whitney Houston became part of our everyday lives. I feel like the sound of her voice almost became the background noise to so many situations and settings over the years.

And now we’re hearing the unfortunately all-too-familiar story about yet another incredibly talented person being found dead somewhere . . . with the dark haze of drug abuse hanging over the situation.

That beautiful young woman, who was so full of life and mind-blowing talent . . . found dead in a hotel bathtub just 25 years later. It absolutely makes me sick.

Part of my nausea comes from the fact that we really don’t know what these superstars’ lives are truly like. It looks like a dream come true from the outside . . . all the money, glamour, prestige and prominence that follows the state of celebrity.

But it’s also becoming extremely clear that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. If it was, why have there been so many of these amazing people caught up in a hushed hell of substance abuse and eventual solitary death . . . when it seemed like they had it all?

The pressure, I’m sure, is incredible and unfathomable to the rest of us.

Think how stressful our lives become . . . can we even imagine what it’s like to be on the world’s stage every second and be the gold ticket from which many, many people make money?

It’s been said by super musicians, in the past, that their existence is an oxymoron. One minute, they are standing on a stage being adored by thousands . . . the next, they are alone.

It’s been said they crave privacy . . . they just want to go to the grocery store and not be followed, hounded. But at the same time, there’s the horrifying fear that one day it may all go away . . . and then who would they be?

I can hear Whitney’s voice as one of her recordings played out at my mother’s funeral. I can hear my sisters singing her songs at a high school choir.

I remember the sting of tears running down my cheeks after my feelings were hurt by some dumb boy and Whitney asked “Didn’t we almost have it all?” I can picture my brother jokingly gyrate to one of her cheesy dance tunes while we milked cows.

I can hear Pam’s dad yelling at us to turn down that dang music while Whitney belted out another classic.

It’s best to remember how this woman touched my life, in those instances, rather than dwell on the way her life ended. I hope that the joy on her face, in the early days, was genuine and that it wasn’t always dark for her.

My stomach hurts because she worked so hard all those years and was entering a new phase of her life where maybe she could have just sat back and enjoyed it. Wow, she almost had it all.

I hope that in Whitney’s final minutes, she had some idea of how her talent touched so many people, played so many roles in the biggest and smallest moments of our lives.

I hope it was peaceful . . . after so many years of commotion, noise and turmoil, I think that’s the least she could have had when it came to the end.

 

 

 

 

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