Tonight I am thinking about the time I first heard Whitney Houston's voice. Unlike any other I'd heard, the facile range she possessed and the ability to transition from one note to another like water running over stones in a riverbed; could that woman sing!
Rare talent like hers astonishes those of us who listen and can only marvel. Some singers are so good that they make you feel like you can sing too. But then there are those rare gifted singers who are so far above us they seem like they were sent from Heaven. And so we stop what we're doing and just take it in. We don't even try to sing along.
That was Whitney Houston. I remember where I was when I first heard that voice. Do you? It's ironic that one of her fist songs started "I believe the children are our future" (The Greatest Love of All) because it's also one of the slogans I noticed at a conference I attended today.
I spent the day at the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented convention for parents of gifted kids.
My 9-year-old is a gift to me because he is unique. Thinking I would learn about how to make sense of some of the differences and challenges to raising a gifted child, I came away from the day realizing (again) how special everyone is – not just those with a certain IQ or sensitivity or creative ability.
One speaker I particularly liked, Patricia Gatto, specialized in families. She spoke to us parents not in the usual way, as people responsible for the care of children; but as important co-creators of very special lives. She reminded me that regardless of the giftedness of your child, we all function together bearing our unique abilities and gifts. She emphasized how great our influence is on our gifted children.
When you think about it, our interactions with each other are brief life-affirming moments that compound to create something wonderful. Or they are small nudges toward destruction.
That seems especially true with gifted people, who tend to be more sensitive than the rest of us. Just ask the parents of gifted kids.
The destruction of someone whose talent is shockingly apparent and public, touches our lives in a similar way. In some way I wonder what small act of kindness or gentle touch could have ultimately saved Whitney Houston.
Like the butterfly whose wing brushes a plant on the other side of the world and affects the weather, I wonder if it was an omission on the part of the people around her, or her adoring fans, or maybe some other individual. Maybe she was her own worst critic — another characteristic of gifted people.
Perhaps the world in general was just too fierce for her. Everyone said she had an "angelic' voice. Maybe God just wanted her closer to Him and she made some sort of unconscious choice herself to go to Him. Who knows?
All I know is despair is the end of every story.
But Whitney's legacy, when I listen, isn't one of despair. Her voice lifts me up; always will. When I listen, her voice will always be her – and God's — gift to us.
Let her life be a reminder to build up every life we touch, and to be gentle with the gifts of others.