48 years old is too young an age to die. Just think of other gifted artists who died before their time. Judy Garland’s lifetime of booze and pills took its final toll at 47. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison died in succession within months of each other. Not one of the three reached their 30th birthday. Elvis Presley who singlehandedly changed the texture of American music and influenced an entire generation of rock musicians, died at 42 from years of accumulated ‘polypharmacy’. Michael Jackson’s grotesque, tumultuous life ended at 50.
A profession in the public eye creates its own hell, but there are millions of people out there who struggle with family problems, emotional upheaval, and financial hardship without the daily ritual of pumping painkillers in their veins and booze in their guts to substitute for reality. There are many people who become alcoholics and drug addicts as a lifestyle, but will never get the attention and sympathy given to celebrities. These famous personalities weren’t coping with devastating illness and taking pain medication as a way to lessen the agony. In Jackson’s case, decades of dancing produced arthritis and did require pain medication, although not the type and frequency administered by a doctor who could not say no.
Ms. Houston’s wonderful voice gave the best rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I have ever heard. I was deployed to Desert Storm when I heard about the performance. I got to see the video when I came home on leave after redeployment. It always gives me a sense of pride and patriotism every time I watch it.
Whitney Houston’s life and untimely death was like so many other senseless, needless, incredibly sad stories. A former bodyguard Alan Jacobs said in an interview:
“The reality of it is, that you can protect someone from everything, but you cannot protect them from themselves”
Some people consume as much mind-altering narcotics as possible because they have a huge hole in their lives and that’s what they choose to fill it with. Every one makes choices, and some of those choices are colassal mistakes. Sad, yes. Surprising, no.
Whitney Houston’s name is now listed on the roll call of gifted people who shared their talents with the world and died much too soon.
Rest in Peace, Whitney.