Why It’s Okay To Be Sad About Whitney

Dear Diary,

I was in the car on Sunday after the Rose Bowl Flea Market and a Whitney medley came on the radio. At which point tears started streaming down my face. I was a little confused as to what I was so upset about. After all, it’s not like I was besties with Whitney Houston or that I was one of her biggest fans. Quite the contrary, I made fun of her crazy antics along with everyone else. But upon further investigation I’ve decided what bothers me so much about her death is the loss of something so beautiful, a gift so incredibly rare and wasted.

When I think of Whitney, I think of her in the 80s. She was blessed with such an incredible gift and it came in such a beautiful, exuberant, youthful package. Her performance in the video for “How Will I Know” (which is maybe my favorite song alongside “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”) is the essence of vitality. She just drips with beauty and talent in this video.

Here’s the video:

I also love these images of Whitney in the 80s and 90s. They are photographs of somebody who could have (and did at times) had everything. Sure, she was hardworking and ambitious, and that counts for something. But she was born with an innate gift, an unparralleled voice, that ultimately went wasted. That seems kind of harsh, given how many songs she created over her life, but she could have created more. When you love an artist, you just can’t get enough of her work and I definitely think we didn’t get enough of Whitney.

The sadness about her death, aside from the tragedy of someone with a family dying so young, is for me about a lost opportunity to create beautiful things. When she died she was no longer the youthful, vibrant siren she was in her 20s, but I always had this subconscious hope that she would clean herself up and somehow get her voice back so that she could continue to create beautiful songs to share with us. When someone talented dies too early, it feels like a robbery and a waste (recently deceased artist Mike Kelly and incredible talent Amy Winehouse come to mind).

With all these thoughts in mind I’m not going to feel weird about mourning the death of a stranger. With Whitney we’ve lost not only an American icon. We’ve lost something beautiful, an artist who created wonderful things that made us happy and, in ways small and large, enriched our lives.


7 thoughts on “Why It’s Okay To Be Sad About Whitney

  1. my eleven year old daughter asked me on Sunday: mom, did you like Whitney Houston’s music? yes, I answered…well, she continued, she died! drugs, they say…to which I fell silent, twice shocked: that my daughter would so non-chalantly say SHE DIED BECAUSE OF DRUGS and that ANOTHER ARTIST goes under the same circumstances…i just don’t get it, another victim THERE’S SO MUCH INFO OUT THERE WARNING US ALL ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES AND YET… I feel so sorry for her family and all the families that have lost a loved one to drugs

  2. Orlando, I feel that you completely described how I feel about Whitney’s death. Over the past few days its hard not to feel so sad about negetive things said about her, even though, I too, took part in plenty of Whitney jokes.. (Whitney and Bobby’s reality show comes to mind). You have such a way with your words.. “We’ve lost something beautiful, an artist who created wonderful things that made us happy and, in ways small and large, enriched our lives.” Well said.

  3. I completely agree! I had tears running down my face while listening to Jennifer Hudson’s version of “I Will Always Love You” at the Grammys yet I couldn’t quite figure out why I was crying. You sum it up perfectly! (Side note: I also love the song and video for “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Classic 80s Whitney. So, so good.)

  4. you’re the only one who has put your finger on it. i think we all hoped she’d make it back. maybe she did.

  5. Thank you for writing that. I completely agree with you. It was the same thing for me on Sunday. I was thinking about her death while I was driving and then the radio station did a medley of Whitney Houston songs that I had not heard in long time. They were so beautiful and I had tears in my eyes too. I could not believe it, since no other singer’s death had affected me like that. Her voice was so rare and gifted, and touched so many hearts in a way nobody else did. We may never hear another voice like that in our lifetime.

  6. It’s so true that we feel a loss for what might have been. My husband expressed feeling it profoundly when Steve Jobs died. It is so strong when we see talent, youth and vision in the person.

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