The poet John Donne wrote, “Any… death diminishes me for I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” When the bells toll today in memory of Whitney Houston, they will remind me of a voice, silenced. I find it diminishes me more, the silencing of a voice that would be otherwise rose in song.
It seems to be true that for Whitney, her life modulated as much as her music. In the latter part of her life, we heard more tribulation than song. Today and in the coming weeks, much will be written and said about those tribulations. I’ll continue to quote Donne. “Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it.” Our home is not here on Planet Earth; we simply occupy this space to live our lives, to have our joys, our own music and our tribulations. Whitney’s time for tribulation is over and now, she has gone home.
That does not make this day any less sad. My thoughts for Whitney’s family, friends and fans can be summed up in the words of another great “poet”, Benjamin Franklin. “I condole with you, we have lost a most dear and valuable relation, but it is the will of God and Nature that these mortal bodies be laid aside when the soul is to enter into real life… We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good for our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God.” Writing as one of her fellow creatures, I thank God for Whitney Houston.
In that same essay, Mr. Franklin wrote, “Our friend and we are invited abroad to a party of pleasure—that is to last forever.” I myself do not know what awaits us. Is it heaven or the spirit world? Whatever it is, I believe the scheduled entertainment at the party includes a “girl group”, unparalleled in its scope and unequalled in its talent. I believe this with every fiber of my being.
Billie Holliday, Janis Joplin, Marion Anderson, Florence Ballard, Karen Carpenter, Alliyah, Lisa (Left-Eye) Lopes, Dusty Springfield, Phyllis Hyman, Beverly Sills, Cass Elliot, Tammi Terrell, Minnie Riperton, Teena Marie, Amy Winehouse, Laurie Beechman, Gertrude Lawrence, Sippie Wallace, Etta James and so many others are already there. Whitney Houston is about to join the group.
It is an amazing jam session for which, one day we will all have the best seat in the house.