Just three hours after Whitney Houston was pronounced dead, her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, took the stage in Tennessee, or somewhere south of reason. Thousands of fans, mostly women, stood and gave a thunderous reception to the man who had opened the door to the self-destruction that marked the last fifteen years of Whitney’s life and turned her voice, a gift from God, into the ravaged voice of a drug addict.
Bobby took the stage and said, “I would like to say, I love you Whitney. The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage.” Not so hard that he didn’t do it. And, don’t get me going on the fact that he didn’t even fly out to LA until more than 24 hours after the news, leaving their only child at the hospital from stress by herself.
I don’t wish to be one of those bitter bra-burners who blame it all on the guy. I need my bra, and my fifty-nine years of life have taught me that we are each responsible for our own life. Whitney Houston doesn’t get a pass because she could sing better than any other woman from the last forty years. That doesn’t excuse the fact that there are already signs her daughter may have suffered deeply from the sins of the mother … and the father. She doesn’t get a pass because her music from The Bodyguard got me through the great sadness of realizing the love of my life was not that at all. Nor does she get a pass just because she died so young.
But here is what she does get. She gets my respect for her ownership of both sides of herself. “I am my own best friend, and I am my own worst enemy,” she said in an interview a while ago. I have that quotation on my vision board. I believe that she never hid her failings or her genius from herself. She owned her talent. She owned her failures. Over and over again, she asked the public to look away and leave her to her own devices … or should I say, vices? Most of us have that privacy. We don’t have to read in the newspapers about how badly we messed up, and I’d venture to guess that makes it just a little easier for us to leave our messes behind. So I respect her; not just her music, but her. Owning your own results is the name of the living game, and she did it very well.
So let the bells of sadness toll for those of us who used her voice to fill the voids in our souls. Let her family learn from her mistakes over the coming weeks, and celebrate her successes and her immense talent. Let her music soar loud enough to be heard by everyone, and let’s all forgive her trespasses. Oh, and for God’s sake, can women stop standing and applauding for men who don’t treat us well?