My 4th grade class snickered when we heard over the intercom, "Please send Whitney to the office, he will be leaving now." As a 6th grader, I remember waiting for my parents to pick me up from the Almaden public library. When my mother called to say she would be late, the clerk hung up the phone, not realizing I was within earshot, snarkily remarked, "Whitney. What kind of a name is that?" In high school, there were the dances, when people would ask me my name, "Whitney." "Wendy?". "No, Whitney." I'd whisper-shout in the boy's ear.
I probably won't ever forget "I Will Always Love You" from The Bodyguard, one of the most romantic films ever. I especially won't forget that because of Whitney Houston, my name became a real name. After she catapulted to stardom, it was no longer, "What kind of name is that?", but rather people accidentally introducing me as "Whitney Houston." That's the kind of name. I. have. I'd think.
Our names are our identity, our who we are. After initially feeling nothing at her death, I now find myself grieving, even weeping a little.
Whitney Houston gave my name a face.
With her death, a little piece of me -- Whitney Johnson -- has died inside.