Last Saturday evening, we were all abruptly reminded of this fact by the shocking and saddening passing of pop superstar Whitney Houston. She was forty-eight years old. Five years older than me.
I don’t profess to be a Whitney Houston fan. I never owned any of her albums, never saw her in concert, nor did I ever tell anyone that I loved her music. But I recognized her greatness.
I shed a tear when Michael Jackson passed. I definitely got choked up when James Brown died. Similarly, Whitney made an indelible mark on the music industry, her voice essentially untouchable.
Like so many other shooting stars, Whitney went from being on top of the world, a 28-time Grammy nominee, to being just another personality whose reality television antics left us all wondering what the hell happened.
Whitney’s passing reminded me of the recent relapse by Josh Hamilton whose continuing problems with alcohol abuse keep his name in the news.
It reminded me of Donnie Moore, former California Angels pitcher, who struggled with depression, ultimately taking his own life because he could never recover from giving up a late-inning home run to Dave Henderson, eliminating his team from the playoffs.
It reminded me of former Red Sox starting pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd who said he continuously used cocaine while pitching in Boston during the 1980s.
It reminded me of every athlete who ever used performance enhancing drugs to further their career.
It reminded me of anyone I’ve ever known or loved who’s had to face such demons.
It reminded me of how impossible it is to mimic even a single Whitney Houston note when humming one of her tunes.
It reminded me of how she was adored by so many.
It reminded me of why drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and gambling are carefully moderated, taxed or illegal, and rightfully so.
It reminded me of the times I’ve used drugs recreationally or even carelessly.
It reminded me that addiction is not something to be messed with.
It reminded me that life is short… and fragile.
Again, I was no huge fan of Whitney, but I’m a big fan of life.
So in honor of her passing and all those who struggle with addiction, I leave you with this…
… and before you shed a tear, I leave you with this, to perhaps, at least temporarily, bring a smile.