I don't remember exactly how old I was at the time, but I do remember where I was: in the grocery store with my mom, in the mall next to the dance studio where I spent my entire childhood and teenage years dancing in.
It was a memorable day for me because I had just purchased the new Whitney Houston cassette tape. (Yes, tape. God, I'm old.) I listened to that tape over and over and over again. For our generation, kids of 80's and 90's, she was the voice.
Whitney's music was a big part of the soundtrack of my life. I have many memories that are attached to a Whitney Houston song. Like my grade eight graduation, for example, where my entire graduating class sang One Moment In Time to a gym full of parents and siblings. That event still remains one of the most embarrassing moment of my life, probably because I was wearing a black dress with green satin sleeves so puffy it would put Alexis Carrington Colby's dresses to shame.
Whitney was a superstar, a diva, a pop-star sensation. Whitney, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany were always on musical rotation when I was young, before I discovered New Kids On The Block and a world of music other than pop. My life was about cassette tapes, mis-matched earrings, blue eye shadow and shimmer lip gloss. Yes, I danced in my room, hair brush as a microphone, to How Will I Know If He Really Loves Me? a million times. Volume turned up full blast, of course.
Whitney Houston was simply gorgeous. She was a true star. Stunning. Incredibly talented. Increbibly troubled. And like other great stars before her, her light went out far too soon. I get emotional over the death of anyone, famous or not, who passes away before they should. But it's personal with celebrities, isn't it? Especially with the ones who were such an important part of our lives, of our past. I think the first celebrity death that really shook me was the death of River Phoenix. I loved him, and to hear he had died of a drug overdose at the age of 23 was shocking and scary. And it was, temporarily at least, a reminder to everyone that drugs were evil.
With the recent passing of Whitney Houston, I feel like I lost a piece of the puzzle that makes up my childhood. She was most definitely one of the great voices of our time, a singer who still gives me chills every time I hear I Will Always Love You. Man, that song. How many of us have cried to that song? Just, chills.
If I had a scrapbook of famous people I love gone too soon, her picture would probably be on one of the first pages.