In all of the coverage surrounding Whitney Houston’s homegoing and burial, I have seen her elevated to practically sainthood status while other people have taken the time tear her down for her drug use and addiction. For me, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
I saw a grief counselor shortly after my mother passed. I was 15 at the time. She cautioned me not to turn my mother into a saint. She said the best way to honor my mother was to remember the whole woman, the good and the bad, because that was who she was. That, is who we all are.
So I remember my mother as a brilliant communicator, compassionate teacher and a woman who could make you laugh till you cried. However, I also remember her as a woman who pushed me too hard at times, who didn’t make caring for her health a priority and who could be moody and impatient. She was a complicated mix of a whole lot of things, not all of them great.
I think when someone dies there is a need among those closest to them to whitewash and sugarcoat their lives. No one wants to speak ill of the dead. Of course, we should never dwell on people’s mistakes and shortcomings (in life or in death) but to ignore them isn’t honest or truthful.
Our mistakes, shortcomings and weaknesses are a part of us, just as our successes, overcoming and strengths are. It takes all of that to make us who we are.
So I will remember Whitney as a beautiful woman with a heavenly voice who had some demons that she had a hell of a time trying to overcome. She had a talent like no other and many of her songs are included in the soundtrack of my life. At the end of the day, she was a woman, a real woman, with all the complications and baggage that entails. May she rest in peace.