As I sit here watching the reports of Bobbi Kristina, Whitney Houston’s daughter, being taken into the hospital after being found unconscious in the bathtub, I can’t help but well up with tears.
It’s a sadness that’s unexplainable.
At once, I remember how I received the news about her mother being found the same way at the Beverly Hilton almost three years ago today.
I had the same reaction. I wanted to know more. I scoured every site for details, refreshed Twitter obsessively.
At that point, my mind flashed back to pressing the “replay” button on my mom’s car stereo every time “I Will Always Love You” came on.
How she hit those notes.
My God, how she hit those notes.
My mind would fast forward to the days after my mom slipped into a coma after her stroke. I would listen to that song and I wouldn’t make it to the end without crying. I still can’t.
The bond between a mother and child is one that can never be replicated or fully described. You come from this person. This person is everything to you — your protector, your incubator, your nutrient source, your entertainment, your world.
To have that person taken from you when you still have so much more to learn from them is devastating. It’s not so much wanting them to be there for the events in your life. It’s thinking about the laughs you miss, the shared moments that won’t happen, the times when life will throw you curveballs that you won’t be able to catch and you just want to run, you want to run away from everything and to that one person who you know will have a kind word, a warm hug, and will provide the reality-steeped perspective you need to weather the storm.
I remember later that day when we lost Whitney when Bobbi was taken in because she was suicidal.
I don’t fault her. Shock makes that happen to people.
For all intensive purposes, Bobbi appeared to be Whitney’s best friend. She was the only one who wasn’t in it for the money, or the namedropping, or to be the hanger-on.
She was the only one Whitney called ‘daughter’ and the only daughter who called Whitney ‘mom’.
When I heard the news this morning, my mind flashed through all the rumors I’ve heard and read the past few years about Bobbi’s out-of-control drug use. How she is spiraling down the same path her mom did. How she
February 11, 2012, the day we lost Whitney, also became the day that we were tasked with one thing: take care of Bobbi. Don’t let her story end the same way her mom’s did. Her dad has his problems. Her grandma is trying her best. But for God’s sake, don’t let her end up the same as her mom.
Of course she’s an adult. Of course she’s capable of making her own decisions. Of course we have to take care of our own and not worry about others.
But she’s one of our own. Her mother’s voice made so many important moments of our lives memorable: weddings, funerals, love, heartbreak.
We owe it to her mother’s memory to take care of the daughter she left us with, the daughter she loved so much.
What is our relationship with celebrity, anyway?
We treat them like zoo animals. We watch them incessantly, gawk at them, follow them, treat their every creation like a parent placing their child’s artwork on their fridge. We pay them, we get to know everything about them, we speculate on them, we send them letters and well-wishes, they become a part of a strange, disconnected extended family. We identify them, when we meet them we tell them how much what they do affects us.
We do everything but take care of them, and even that’s not true. We give them money. We pay the bills, keep the lights on, keep their kids in school.
So why don’t we try to help them?
These are people. They’re people just like us. They have their faults, and their faults get pasted on billboards while ours at most leak out over a beer.
If we can crowdfund to support a celebrity’s movie project, why can’t we crowdfund to help a celebrity keep doing what they do? Why can’t we crowdfund their bills? Their expenses? Their therapy? Their sobriety?
Unions don’t take care of celebrities outside of giving them expensive health insurance plans. Studios and record companies don’t care, they’re replaceable. Managers and publicists don’t care, they get 10% regardless of outcome.
Why don’t we care?
We’re the end user. We get a product. We get the fruit of their gift.
We invite them into our homes at our choosing. There’s a reason the industry is called “entertainment”.
It will be a milestone when the first celebrity uses a crowdfunding platform or similar to fund their medical expenses, their rehab, or their therapy. When that happens, we’ll have broken down one of the last barriers that exists between celebrity and reality.
We may not like the results. We may realize these people are people just like us and abandon them.
Or we may gain a special appreciation that they’re people just like us AND they have incredible talent.
Reports currently show that Bobbi Kristina is stable. Someone was watching over her.
Now it’s our turn.