And I Will Always…

I woke up this morning in Nigeria to the news of the untimely passing of Whitney Houston.  The night had been troubled and feverish leading to a slow morning made more surreal by unbelievable news delivered by text and Blackberry Messenger.

Of course it wasn’t true.  I wasn’t even going to hunt down the news.  No.  There were more electronic messages and then the harbinger of social media.  Finally, I could not ignore my friend’s voicemail about how upset she was.  It became inescapably true.  Whitney Houston was dead.

When Michael died we were blindsided.  I was in denial for hours awaiting confirmation.  With this news of Whitney, it was irrevocable.   The passing had been confirmed for hours.  I had nothing to face but the truth that this woman who was everything when I was growing was gone.  Suddenly, unceremoniously. Gone.

What bubbled up in me was not sorrow, though.  It was a quiet, humming rage that got louder as I read the missives on social media.  That rage grew to deafening thudding of my heart in my ears.

Why all this now?  Where were we when she was alive?  What difference does our outpouring make now that she is gone to us?  How dare you comment about her “wasted” talent?  How could you look at her legacy of astounding achievement and twist your finger to type “waste”?  Was she not potential realized?  Did she not burn bright only to come down and be among us, human?

The rage has long simmered down, making way for speechless sorrow.  I wish we had honored her in life the way death compels us.  I wish we had acknowledged her impact on our lives.  She was everything to the little growing Black girl that I was.  I sang along horribly as she serenaded me from childhood to adolescence and finally drifted away into adulthood.

She was my hero and like everyone else, I used her voice to fuel my dreams.  When that voice stopped booming, I cast her aside and moved on.  I shrugged off her struggles expecting her to overcome.  When it took longer than expected, I shelved my concern, biding my time, looking away, refusing to acknowledge what was attempting to replace my icon.

Then one day she came back to us, scarred, voice lost to her battle for life.  I was happy though I mourned such a beautiful thing now burned away.  That is when I, like everyone else who already had, took her down from her pedestal believing that I had gotten all that I could have from her.

Whitney Houston was no wasted talent.  In her short life, she accomplished more than many of us could dream to achieve many lifetimes over with just her voice.  In our greed, we wanted more and more from this phenom who gave us infinitely more than we could imagine.  She did not stop until she was spent and used up by our insatiable need for constant affirmation.  When she proved to be human like the rest of us, we went searching for another brightness to bask in until that light dimmed as well.

Little did I know that Whitney would one day trump all the naysayers.  She did so by dying.  Her passing has caused us to finally recognize her impact and honor her like we refused to in her last days.

In passing, Whitney Houston taught the ultimate message.  Nothing is forever.  Our heroes are not forever.  Let us honor our heroes often and always, letting them know they have don’t have to keep producing to retain our love.  Let us let them be human.

She gave us word and song.   They are left behind, a shadow of the incomparable voice and woman that sang until she could sing no more for us.   Thank you for this:

I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you’ve dreamed of.
And I wish to you, joy and happiness.
But above all this, I wish you love.

And I will always love you.

May we learn our lesson and honor loved ones, heroes and icons before death and after the music stops.  May we embrace our and others’ humanity.   May your soul rest in perfect peace, Whitney Elizabeth Houston.  You are loved.

Challenge Day 24: Let It Go

A new day brings a new challenge.  Now that the Four Agreements are out of the way, I’m left with a week’s worth of challenges to dream up.  I dedicate the next seven challenges to things that I find the most difficult.  Today’s is something I have to keep practicing because it just never sticks.

Today’s challenge: Let things go.  Practice letting go as often as you can.  Let go of people, things, grudges, disappointments.  You name it.  Let it go.  Become a master of unburdening yourself.

Letting go is beyond difficult for me.  I tend to hoard memories and things.  I hold onto data, ideas and what we did last week.  I never forget how you hurt me or how you misunderstood me.  Even my home holds things I refuse to let go.  My favorite poem highlights how letting go feels like losing:

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Letting go can feel like dying–if we really know how that feels.  It’s a trick that the familiar plays so that you can continue on the same path.  Notice that when you let go, the bottom does NOT fall out of the world.  If fact the world opens up even more for you.

I can hold onto things that hurt me and keep me from moving forward or I can take a risk to see what will show up once I clear out the space.  For the next few days, I’m going to practice shedding thoughts and things, especially the unnecessary.  I’ll take it even further by letting go of the things I hold onto that seem crucial yet haven’t been useful.  I’ll get rid of those items so that I will room for something new.

So it is with heavy heart that I let go of that one that I want to love me so much that my memories overshadow the present.  I’m letting go of the past to make room for an unrecognizable future.  I will do this every chance I get for the rest of this month.  I wonder what I’ll do with all the space I create.

Today’s victory: I literally let go of something today and I feel great!




I let go of a whole lot of hair today (If only you could see the front!) Chopped!  I feel like a new woman.  Letting go can sometimes be fun.  Who knew? Let the games begin!

Gratitude: I am grateful for the delicious that always finds me.

On the horizon: Lightening my heart


Built a man before.  To replace the flesh one who didn’t want me.  From scraps. Every
          video clip,

All I could gather.

                  A kiss,
                a tweet,
        train stations,
  some saliva.
Problem was I couldn’t get him to stay either.

The patches wouldn’t live.

Tried to sneak pieces
into other men. Kiss me. This way.
Pull here. Soft there.  Didn’t work.

Even tailored myself wanting
to be what he wanted.

Sometimes I beg the real one for time
so I can collect more for my stitched one.

Don’t know who we are anymore.

Hunched, scouring. Snatched parts from me to add to my amalgam.
Real him didn’t recognize me because I was missing. Then I noticed, even he was made of bits.

In Memoriam

On another day as bright and sunny as this one, we lost him.  I denied it as long I could, writing: Is it true?  The heart won’t accept what the tv reports…

So far, it has been confirmed by almost every other major news source except for CNN that the most prolific pop icon, Michael Jackson has passed away. I remain quiet, mouselike, diminished until CNN drops the confirmation. I expect that I will remain in denial long after that.

This has the same feeling that 9-11 did as I ran, covered in dust, away from the collapsing towers. The day was as beautiful and calm as this and yet something so unfathomable was happening. When I am done denying, I will no longer trust sunny, breezy days to keep me safe.

I am no longer in denial.  Denial shifted into mourning, then anger at an unnecessary loss and the treachery of summer days obliviously dealing out tragedy.  I spent much time being angry that it was only in death was Michael truly appreciated for mark he left on the world and the lives he transformed.   More anger came when the media sought to rehash the ugliness he had endured and was taken out on my tv as it was promptly shut off.

Many people understand Michael’s impact personally and the people who don’t perplex me or are just too young…or something else.  The death of Michael Jackson hit me like the death of a family member.  He was someone who was with me through every part of my conscious life: Billy Jean when we first moved to the US, praying that he would pick me up from school, choreographing dances to “Human Nature”, fighting my brother to play with his MJ doll, hiding my face during the “Thriller” extended video, bugging out to and then practicing the dance moves in the “Remember the Time” video, geeking out to him and Janet in the “Scream” video, praying with all my heart during his last court case and on and on…

After watching This Is It, the documentary on his preparation for his last tour, I knew my loyalties weren’t ill-placed.  Here was an inspirational, hard-working, gracious, loving, truly royal soul that deserved all our extreme adoration because he totally earned it and continues to.  That anger has become a profound gratefulness that I had the honor of witnessing his life exactly the way that I did.  His 45 years of achievement and sacrifice inspires me to do what it takes and give all that I have to give in a life that is worth living and easily lost.

One year later and though the facts say he’s out of my life, I remember that as long as he’s imprinted in all these memories, he will never be gone.  Rest in perfect peace Michael Joseph Jackson.