It’s so alcoholic of me to turn the death of someone else into a blog post about myself. I remember going to a meeting the day Michael Jackson died and all anybody could talk about was how hard the death of a person they didn’t know was for them. We’re such a dramatic and self-centered lot. Therefore it is difficult not to talk about Whitney Houston. As an addict and alcoholic and fan, it’s hard not to take her death personally.
As the news is still fresh and many tears are still not dry, when it comes to Whitney Houston’s death over the weekend there is so much we still don’t know. It’s tempting to say it was drugs or booze that killed her. But the fact is we don’t know. As a person in recovery, I can assume she chose the final and tragic Door Number 3. They say there are only three options a life without recovery has for those who cannot stay sober–jails, institutions and death. My snap judgement is that she is a victim of the third option. It angers me because I’ve seen friends die because they couldn’t stay sober. But again, we just don’t know. So the best we can do is mourn her, appreciate her talents and pay tribute to her.
But is that truly the best we can do? After the decades of Judys, Jimmys, MJs and Amys when do we stop co-signing the behavior and acknowledge that these brilliant tortured souls died of a fatal disease? With MJ, we blamed someone else. With Amy, we ignored the obvious. If it does turn out to be drugs and alcohol that killed her, maybe Whitney’s death could be an invitation to an honest, global conversation about the reality of addiction. Kate Middleton has taken on the project of alcoholism and addition in England. Diana’s pet project was AIDS. Middleton clearly sees the issue as serious as any other major, fatal health epidemic. And that’s what it is. Houston admittedly tried to get and stay sober for years. To honor her memory with education and honesty, would be truly awesome.
And yet we just don’t know. I saw Whitney Houston in concert in 1990. The reason you went to a Whitney concert back in the day was to see that freakishly amazing voice come out of this beautiful woman. She didn’t disappoint. That voice was her special effect. That voice was the superpower she had over millions. In life that voice could change minds, inspire and give you chills. There’s no doubt her voice will live on for decades. We’ll remember that gift and maybe not talk about the demons that so clearly plauged her. And even when we do know more, we’ll just focus on the good stuff. Because we think that’s the best we can do.