The first time I ever heard her pipes I was nine years old and watching my heart throb, Ricky Schroder on "Silver Spoons." She played herself and was Dexter's love interest for an episode. She belted out "Saving All My Love For You" and won my heart over. Obviously, Whitney Houston did far more than a walk-on in a Saturday night sitcom, but that's where she got her start in my life.
I remember belting out "Greatest Love of All" into my Tickle deodorant bottle in my bedroom. Door shut, tape deck cranked, I sang every note (badly, I might add) at the top of my lungs. I'm certain my mother hated Whitney. But I loved her.
She gave me a song for every turning point in my life. "Greatest Love of All" was played at our assembly the last day of 6th grade. "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" peppered the skating rink speakers every Friday and Saturday night through my junior high years. The year after my mom died, she set a new precedent with her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. When my high school boyfriend and I broke up in early 1993, "I Will Always Love You" got me through many a sleepless night. In 1999, when I went through my divorce "It's Not Right," came out.
While I'm not sobbing with an ugly cry like I did for Michael Jackson two and a half years ago, I am grieving the loss of such an influential woman. Her music encouraged many, her struggles with addiction and domestic abuse touched a chord with some but her perseverance was inspiring.
I pray for her family and the friends she left behind. May she find the peace in her death she was unable to find throughout her life.
Rest in peace, Whitney.