I just watched Oprah Winfrey's interview with Bobbi Kristina (Whitney Houston's daughter), Gary Houston (Whitney's brother), and Pat Houston (Whitney's sister-in-law). It was a very emotional program. I went into it with a sense of apprehension mixed with "I can't miss this". I must say that I was very relieved with the outcome. Here's why.
I remember seeing Diane Sawyer's interview with Whitney a number of years ago, and although Diane asked the pertinent questions, it got a little combative. With Bobbi Kristina having just lost her mother, I wanted to hear from her, but I also felt a bit protective at the thought of this teenager being thrown to the wolves with pointed questions raining down upon her like jabs in a boxing ring. I needn't have worried. Oprah to the rescue.
I can't think of a better person than Oprah to have conducted this interview. Oprah welcomed Bobbi Kristina with arms outstretched, and simply held her for several moments. You could see that she put Bobbi Kristina at ease. Oprah led Bobbi through favorite memories of her mom. She asked touching questions such as "what will you miss most about your mom?", and "what was your last day like with your mother?".
I was so happy to hear Bobbi say that, though it was difficult, looking back she sees that her mother was preparing her for the day Bobbi would be thrust into the spotlight. And she felt that Whitney's spirit was still with her saying "keep moving on. I've got you". Bobbi said she has her up times and times when it hits her hard, but that she's taking it one day at a time. Overall Bobbi came across as a very composed young lady, dealing admirably with the loss of a mother she so clearly loved and cherished. I believe Whitney would have been very proud of her.
Pat Houston struck me as someone who loved Whitney very much, enough to dare to stand up to her in a world of yes men. She spoke honestly of Whitney's problems, but said that Whitney was dealing with her issues and, towards the end of her life, was turning things around for the better. She shared that Whitney was last at their home on New Year's Day. She said she'd never seen Whitney so happy as she was when they played a rousing game of bingo down in the basement. She described Whitney as laughing the whole time and thoroughly enjoying her time with the family.
Pat went on to poignantly describe her last moments seeing Whitney when, despite the authorities trying to force her out of the hotel room, she was unable to leave her friend Whitney alone. She stayed until the EMTs had exhausted all rescue efforts and covered Whitney's face before they carried her body out. Pat said that in the end she feels that Whitney's downfall was looking for love in all the wrong places. Whitney was human just like the rest of us. I must add that very few of us have not been in that same predicament at one time or the other.
Gary Houston was clearly a big brother in tremendous grief. When Oprah asked him about Bobby and Whitney, it was very interesting to hear Gary say that he loved Bobby and thought he was a great guy. He said, in effect, that Bobby and Whitney were very much in love, and were both great people. It's just that apparently they weren't good together. He couldn't place the blame on either party. I thought this was an incredibly fair and objective statement considering how Bobby is routinely maligned by much of the press.
Gary said that the only people who really know what goes on in a marriage are the two people in that marriage. He did touch on the fact that he felt very violated by the fact that someone among the close family and friends invited to the viewing at the funeral home would have taken a picture of Whitney in her casket and leaked it to the media. He called the act "wicked" and I totally agree.
Oprah said that she'd spoken to Whitney's mother Cissy Houston the day before the interview and offered her the chance to speak if she wished. Cissy said that she just wasn't ready to speak yet, and understandably so. Gary said that his mother had told him several times that Whitney's voice was a vessel for her gift from God and that they wouldn't have Whitney with them for long. He said that though Cissy had mentioned this several times, Whitney's death still devastated her. Oprah said that when she asked Cissy how she was doing, Cissy said "some days I'm not doing". My prayers go out to Cissy and the family.
Though many of us are still reeling from the unexpected loss of Whitney Houston, I have to commend Oprah for the compassionate manner in which she conducted this interview, even shedding tears when witnessing the family's grief in telling their story. Oprah Winfrey handled this interview in a classy, dignified and respectful manner. And in this sometimes sordid, cut-throat tabloid world, it was, quite frankly, a refreshing and hopeful change. Well done Oprah. Rest in peace Whitney Houston. Thank you for sharing yourself and your incredible voice with the world. Yours was truly "The Voice".