Didn’t we almost have it all!
A tribute and apology to Whitney Houston.
by Stan Faryna
If any of you desire to bring judgment upon the unfaithful wife, do not omit the weight of the heart of her husband or the measure of his soul’s light by each lumen, joy, kindness, and peace to which you or another neighbor can testify.
If you desire to whip this unfaithful wife for her crimes, you must also examine the spirit of each member of the offended family and public. Were they accomplice to her husband’s contempt for his wife, to his adventures with other women and wives of other men, to her unspoken pain and her unspoken complaints of her own neglect?
Did they stand by and ignore her neglect?
Does her sin so outweigh her contribution, her sacrifices, and the untold sins against her that she herself has forgiven?
Does her sin outweigh all the times her smile uplifted you or her song released you from your worries and troubles?
You men, did you too not look upon her with lust and desire? Did you not ravage her in your thoughts and dreams – though she was not your wife? You women, did you not look at her with envy for her beauty and the men that admired her.
And if any of you would punish her in the name of righteousness and lay the ax unto the evil tree, let him see to its roots; And verily he will find the roots of the good and the bad, the fruitful and the fruitless, all entwined together in the silent heart of the earth.
– Kahlil Gibran
News of Whitney Houston’s death came as a shock to fans around the world. Unbid tears have flowed. The circumstances are neither pretty nor proper, but the repeated message from the Beverly Hills police and coroner was that there was no evidence of foul play.
In response to the overwhelming coverage of Whitney’s passing on social and mainstream media, some question Whitney Houston’s relevance – especially considering that her history of substance abuse and reckless lifestyle does not make her an ideal role-model.
You can find overwhelming description of her personal trials and challenges all over the internet. That’s not interesting to me.
Honestly, news of her death did not shake my heart. I was saddened to hear that someone whose songs had touched my heart… had died in difficult circumstances: material, emotional, and spiritual.
The news did shake my GF’s heart and my GF was a wreck. She listened to Whitney Houston’s songs for hours and she cried through them all. She bawled unabashedly.
I wanted to understand my GF’s pain and loss, so I asked my GF why she was taking the news so hard. She replied by taking one of my favorite ceramic pieces (a folk art bowl decorated with running deer – the deer painted in a naive style that resembles prehistoric cave painting) and smashed it on the floor.
The ceramic bowl is in pieces. And now in the trash. The potter has been dead for 200 or more years. But now he and his life is not a part of my life. Not physically.
“A dumb ass like you can figure this one out,” she explained with a snarl. And then she went back to watching more videos of Whitney on youtube.
I tried to explain that I wasn’t mocking her, but she glanced at another object from my ceramics collection and I shut up. [gulp]
Obviously, this was about her. My GF. Her feelings about life and death. This was not really about Whitney Houston.
Whitney Houston, Didn’t We Almost Have It All
I do understand that we open our hearts to the artists, musicians, writers, and others that speak to our hearts. And those that spoke for us. They become a part of us. They become ours in a manner of speaking. And to hear of their death is not only to lose them, it is to lose a part of ourselves.
I grew up with Michael Jackson. From the Jackson Five to Thriller. My first hand-drawn portrait was of Michael Jackson. And despite the strange circumstances that surrounded him (allegations of child molestation, the fake nose, and all his weirdness), I felt profound (not tearful) loss when Michael died.
And though I did not weep at his death, I return, on occasion, to dwell upon the words of the poet, Maya Angelou:
We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes.
His hat, aslant over his brow, and took a pose on his toes for all of us.
And we laughed and stomped our feet for him.
We had him, Angelou writes.
I had him. Just like you had Whitney. Or, you, Kurt Colbain, John Lennon, or JFK. Or you, someone else.
They inspired us. Lifted up our hearts. Or carried us through an hour of a long, dark night.
Didn’t we almost have it all?
And what of the homeless, the hungry, the sick, the oppressed, the crying, and the dying?
Why do we not open our hearts to them? Because they have not given themselves to us?!
Perhaps, it is we who should be giving ourselves to them? Just as we have received from others.
For if we did, perhaps then, then, we would have it all.
Thank you for giving us so much, Whitney. And forgive us for taking so much from you that it hurt as much as it did. May your journey ahead give you all and many times more than we have taken of you.
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13 February 2012