I love music. I may not be able to see the sunset, but I can hear and appreciate music in a way I never could if I’d grown up with perfect vision. I grew up depending on my ears because I couldn’t depend on my eyes, and I grew up learning how to sing and how to play the flute and piano, and I learned the theory and the practice and the soul of music. No, I learned the theory and the practice of music. The soul of music I found when I gave my time and love to learn how to perform those incredible songs. If you want a memory worth having, blindfold yourself for a month, then at the end of that month go to listen to a symphony performed live. It’s worth losing your vision for a time to be able to experience music properly, to hear that overwhelming, melting, glorious music for one evening and remember it forever.
Whitney Houston died. She was a beautiful and intelligent woman and obviously had family and friends who loved her very much, and it is a tragedy that she died so young and after so much suffering. But her voice died a long time ago. I can’t mourn the loss of an irreplaceable talent because I’ve already done my mourning. Her voice was one of the wonders of the world. When I think to myself that I’d rather be blind than deaf, the inability to hear her songs is one of the reasons I think of. Beethoven’s Eroica symphony; the incomparable performances of Yo Yo Ma; the perfect voice of Whitney Houston. As I go blind, I’ll miss the incandescent clarity in the blue of the daytime sky and the wonder of the stars at night, but if I had the image of the world in flawless detail, I would trade it to be able to hear her sing.
It shook me to my core to hear what had become of that voice. When she sang, her voice was a river in flood, terrifying and awe-inspiring, carrying everything before it. When she softened her voice, the river sparkled in the sunlight, flowing gently and whispering, “Follow me. I will lead you somewhere new.” When I found that the river had run dry, I grieved as though a living person had died. I hope that she is somewhere beyond suffering now and that her voice, that voice that angels would die to have, is ringing through Heaven like a reminder of Eden before temptation, like the way the world could have been if we had made different choices, like the musical expression of the will of God. If I’m very good and very lucky, when it’s my turn to die, I think the voice calling me home will be the voice of Whitney Houston singing the first, last, and only Song.
Rest in peace, Whitney Houston. I’ll remember your voice when I’ve forgotten that I was ever able to see at all.