I was in college at a gas station when I heard the news that Tupac Shakur had died. I was sad, but not shocked.
I was at work when word spread about the death of Michael Jackson. We all thought it was a cruel joke and remained glued to our computers and TV’s as the truth unfolded. I was shocked, sad and speechless.
I was on my way to begin date night with my husband when I saw the news on Twitter about the death of Whitney Houston. Again, I just KNEW it was a cruel joke. I clicked around until I saw a story on TMZ and lost my breath. Then, I turned on the radio. Their playlist included nothing but Whitney and that was my final confirmation. At that moment, I seriously fought back tears.
Never before had I had that reaction to the passing of a celebrity. I’m not sure I ever will again. For me, she wasn’t just any celebrity. Not by any means. Her star rose at a time in my life when I really needed confirmation. I needed to know that I wasn’t alone. That reassurance came when I was nine-years old. Being a super tall, super thin nine-year old in the 80’s wasn’t easy. It’s during that time when kids can be and are cruel. (I can’t believe I’m crying as I type this.) Looking different was all the ammunition people needed to make sure I didn’t have much self confidence. Enter this regal beauty. This tall, skinny chocolate woman who everyone seemed to adore. To make things even better, she never hid her relationship with God. She was a church girl, like me! She became a role model for me.
Over the years I had determined that when I grew up I would be just like her. I would be a model, then a singer. I would be graceful and poised. I would carry myself with such confidence that teases and taunts wouldn’t get to me. As I grew to become a young woman and her life began to be fodder for tabloids, I held on to the Whitney that I knew. The Whitney that I connected with all those years ago. I just knew that she would return to her former splendor. I held on all the way up until February 11, 2012.
I have not achieved her success as a model or a singer. It’s not even a goal anymore. What I do hope to carry on from her is the ability to inspire and encourage other young girls. I hope I am able to show them that they are beautiful, strong and worthy of every gift God has blessed them with.
I leave you with one of my ALL time favorite Whitney performances. When I first saw it, I recorded it and I’m not sure I could tell you how many times I played it back until I learned every word and every note. As a little girl, I had hoped to meet her and tell her how she’d inspired me. As a grown woman, I pray that she rests in His peace. God, help her daughter, mother and loved ones.
Bonus – Purely Gifted: