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Your close girl friend from around the way. That young woman in the church choir who gave it her everything and more. That fashionable, modelesque auntie whose high heels you teeter-tottered in.

That was Whitney Houston.

Your first college girlfriend who knocked you off your feet. Your best ride or die sister who comforted you through the low times, waiting for you to exhale. Your wise and warm teacher who taught you from her own, extensive experiences.

That was Whitney Houston.

That intense sense of loss and sorrow emanating from the black community clearly illustrates the very real way that Whitney Houston connected with each and every one of her listeners. It’s never easy to lose a legend, but it’s extremely painful to lose family and that’s what happened February 11, 2011. As the many friends and fellow performers that she inspired and influence step forward to share their intimate stories on the late icon, those of us who only knew her from afar are recalling our special moments with Whitney in our own ways. Whether creating that epic Whitney playlist, watching her several films, hitting up the karaoke with your best group of friends, we have decidedly taken a bittersweet trip down memory lane to those moments frozen in time by Whitney’s remarkable presence.

The voice, beauty, charisma and love all culminated into an irreplaceable artist and human being who was just as human as she was ethereal. And yet, as close to Whitney as we felt, we also kept her at arms length once she began her tragic descend into addiction. Perhaps Whitney’s downfall showed us something all too familiar that we chose to berate and mock the formerly angelic performer, instead of coming to terms with her susceptibility for temptation and self-injury?

Our close girl friend; our auntie; our girlfriend; our beloved consoler now needed some understanding and love from her legion of supporters, but what the new Whitney showed us was reality, and not an escape. Our projections of perfection had crumbled before our eyes, so without the presence of her commanding and confident stature to build us up, we proceeded to use her downfall as a step ladder.

Yes, Whitney and her close circle played a major role in her ending up in the state she was in, but we can’t help but feel a tad bit guilty can we? Because while Whitney did inflict self-damage onto herself, she also gave us some of the best times we’ve ever had growing up, period. This public deluge of love and sorrow and regret from the media, Hollywood, and the internet proves this. And though it may be too late to reciprocate the love that Whitney poured out in each performance, it’s not too late to bolster, encourage and support those of our family members who are still with us. As many others have said of Whitney’s passing, let this tragic moment serve as a lesson.

Why Whitney Was Like Family was originally published on

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