Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Whitney’s Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, her sister-in-law, Patricia Houston and her brother, Gary Houston, was many things: sincere, touching, eye-opening, heartwarming, heartbreaking. Sad. I raise my hand to admit that I wasn’t sold on the threesome’s sit down on Oprah’s Next Chapter—thought it too soon for them to reveal details of Whitney’s death, too soon for Bobbi Kris to sit on anyone’s couch and speak of the tragic loss of her mother. My bad for doubting Oprah; I should have known that she would handle it with a deft touch. Only she could get the scoop, make us cry and remind the audience of the humanity of Whitney and her family.
There will be many newspapers, TV news shows, websites and blogs recapping what was said in the Oprah interview with Bobbi Kris, et. al.: Whitney was found facedown in the bathtub; it was her hairstylist, Mary, who found Whitney’s body; Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mom, is still too distraught to talk to anyone, even Oprah; Patricia insists that despite news reports that Whitney was disheveled and high in the days leading to her death, the singer was too busy and too committed to her engagements to be taking drugs; Patricia thought that it was a younger man, not drugs, that would have ended Whitney’s life; Gary liked Bobby and the family never barred him or told him he shouldn’t go to Whitney’s funeral; Gary can sang with the conviction of Whitney but broke down in uncontrollable tears before he could make it through a gospel-tinged rendition of his sister’s song, “I Look To You.”
All of this is great revelation for Whitney fans who’ve been clamoring to hear what happened in the Los Angeles hotel where the singer died, and certainly the family’s truth on the matter. But I want to focus on something that really touched my heart: Bobbi Kristina’s awareness of her mother’s spirit walking with her.
Bobbi Kristina said that though she couldn’t sleep in the house she shared with her mother the first night after her death, she went back a few days later after her mother’s spirit beckoned her back, saying, “All right, come on home now.”
“I can hear her voice in spirit talking to me, telling me, ‘Keep moving,’ you know? ‘I’m right here—I got you,’” Bobbi Kristina said. “She’s always with me. I can always feel her, I can always feel her with me. That’s all I hear. She always asked me, ‘Do you need me?” One day, I caught myself —I don’t even know why I said it, but I said, ‘I always need you.”
Bobbi Kris went on to say that since her mother died, lights have flickered on and off throughout the house, and she’s awakened every morning at exactly 5 a.m.—the time that her mother used to tell her that saints wake to pray. “I wake up, I look at the clock, it’s 5 o’ clock and I just start praying. I get humble,” Bobbi Kristina said. “She humbles me. I remember what she told me. I remember what she taught me through these 18 years. That’s all that I’ve taken.”
And when she cries for her mother, she hears the voice again: “Come on, keep moving. Keep going. I’m still right there, just not in flesh,” Bobbi Kristina said. “Her spirit is strong, It’s a strong spirit. I feel her pass through me all the time.”
Ironically, Whitney’s mother, Cissy, wrote about Whitney’s spirit in a letter she penned to her daughter and had printed in the memorial service programs. In it, Cissy writes that the afternoon Whitney died, before she knew her daughter had passed, the doorbell to her apartment kept ringing—so much so that Cissy asked the building concierge to review tapes to see who the culprit was. But there was no one on the tapes or in the hallway. “You promised me you were coming to spend time with me after the Grammy’s” Cissy wrote. “I believe the spirits allowed you to come after all.”
It is these things that brought tears to my eyes.
Of course, this may be hard to comprehend for someone who isn’t a believer in spirits or eternal life—or even someone who simply hasn’t experienced the passing of someone whose heart is so incredibly intertwined with their own. But I can say with all certainty that as a daughter who lost her mother, I connected instantly with what Bobbi Kris was saying—knew that, even as it might sound crazy to a bunch of folk, what she spoke of is real. The night my mother was transitioning, I woke out of a sound sleep at the exact time that she died. And for months after, I dreamed about her, until the one dream when we gave her a going away party. She was dressed in white, with her shock of red hair—curly and beautiful, just like Whitney Houston’s—perfectly coiffed. She looked happy. And I woke up satisfied that she was safe in His arms.
Two years later, on Mother’s Day, while Nick and my girlpies were in the kitchen making me breakfast, I woke to the smell of my mother’s scent—a very specific scent that I hadn’t smelled since she’d passed. We were in a new house, you see, in the South, with no one but each other. I was scared of the prospects—whether I could make it as a freelancer and author; whether the school the kids were in would be good enough; whether our move to the South was a smart decision. I’m a worrier. My heart was heavy. And then, like that, there Mommy was. Her scent was as welcome as the sunrise, thick as a heavy rain. You couldn’t tell me that my mother wasn’t in the room with me—wasn’t loving on me and praying for me and telling me that she was okay and that I would be, too. She smelled so damn good. I cried and laughed all the same. It was one of the most beautiful things that’s ever happened to me. I’ll never, ever forget it. Or my mother.
I’ve long hesitated sharing this story out of fear that people would think I was crazy. But it is my truth.
So if there was anything that I could take away from Bobbi Kristina’s interview with Oprah, it is knowing this: Bobbi Kristina and Whitney Houston had an unshakeable bond—the kind that comes only between a mother and her child. And while we may have lost Whitney, Bobbi Kristina did not. Her mother is right there by her side. In this, she can take solace. Whitney’s got her.
1. As Whitney Houston’s Funeral Nears, We Celebrate Her Life—And Remember That She Was Us
2. Whitney Houston Will: Bobbi Kristina Brown Is Sole Heir To Her Mom’s Fortune
3. Jennifer Hudson’s Grammy Awards Tribute To Whitney Houston (Video)
4. Whitney Houston Dies At 48—A Sad Farewell To An Icon We Absolutely Adore
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.