Although I trusted that Mary had her facts straight, I turned to Google to confirm the news. I was still processing the obituary headline long after I read it.
Whitney Houston provided the first soundtrack to my childhood besides Sesame Street sing-alongs.
My mother listened to 96.5 FM all the time in those days. Before I could choose my own music, I loved hers and Whitney Houston was a big part of it.
As I cycled through music videos on YouTube last Sunday, I was surprised at how many I recognized considering I was barely out of kindergarten when they were burning up the airwaves.
I’m pretty sure I have sung each of those tunes into a shampoo bottle at one time or another.
Later, I saw a TV clip from Houston’s final performance. Decades of bad choices had obviously taken a toll on her voice.
Houston couldn’t belt “I Will Always Love You” anymore. She was barely whispering the lyrics of “Jesus Loves Me” just hours before entering eternity.
I think it’s ridiculous for average people to mourn celebrities as if they were family, but I’ll admit that Whitney Houston has crossed my mind several times this week.
I could be taking her death so hard because she is the same age as my mother, almost to the day.
I feel sorry for her daughter, Bobbi Kristina. No amount of money in the world can replace the loss of a parent.
I hate that someone with so much talent gradually threw it away.
I also wonder what might have happened if Houston had turned her life around before it became a cautionary tale.
Her struggle with substance abuse was well-documented by the press. She sometimes became defensive about it in interviews, especially one with Diane Sawyer in which she claimed to be far too rich to do a “cheap” drug like crack.
Houston’s fame offered her a platform that other recovering addicts have used to try to help others.
I wish she could have become such an example in life rather than through an untimely death.
A few hours before learning about Houston’s passing, I met two young men who are using their God-given abilities for a higher purpose.
Crimson Tide defensive linemen Chris Bonds and Jesse Williams were in Jasper that day to congratulate Jeremy England, a 36-year-old hospice patient, on being named the biggest Alabama fan in Walker County.
The size of their biceps was not an indication of their egos. Both seemed genuinely humbled that a visit from them could mean so much.
I never got the impression that they just came for a photo op or because someone in the athletic program was forcing them to be there.
Bonds and Williams stayed at the England house for close to an hour. After a while, I think everyone forgot that they were the closest thing our state has to celebrities.
Anyone envious of their success might not be after hearing some of their stories.
These guys go to the mall and come out to find fans huddled around their trucks. They sign autographs with the best of intentions knowing that some of them will wind up on eBay.
It’s understandable that they have become best friends as well as teammates because everybody wants a piece of them. At least with each other, they don’t have to look for hidden agendas.
As members of the Crimson Tide, they experience more pressure than most people their age will ever know.
Yet they both realize that the day is approaching when their fame will fade.
Soon there will be a new crop of players to scrutinize, and they will return to the obscurity from which they came.
In the meantime, they are enjoying the ride while it lasts and doing good while they can by recognizing real heroes like Jeremy England.
Houston sang about the greatest love of all; they embody it.