Tonight another, more tangible, piece of my childhood has left. Whitney Houston has passed away.

Most people in my life know about my enjoyment of the music of female pop and soul singers and would not be surprised at this post, but Whitney was different to me than the rest. 

Part of it was her amazing talent in the prime of her career. Nobody else had a voice like hers; she was just on another level that few have even come close to.

Another part was her comeback story. Only 4 years ago she divorced her husband Bobby Brown and got over her substance abuse habits. Her voice was starting to recover and her career was taking a turn for the better. Her story is inspiring and a great message and example for many people.

But neither of those are the main reason why I feel like there's a hole somewhere right now. For me, Whitney was always around. Many of the divas I like, I discovered their back catalogue and hits from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s in the mid-2000s even if I did recognize their names.

Whitney, on the other hand, was someone I knew well. As a child in elementary school, I knew she sang "Saving All My Love For You," "Greatest Love of All," "How Will I Know," "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)," "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "All The Man That I Need," "I Will Always Love You," "I Have Nothing," "I Believe in You and Me" (from The Preacher's Wife), and "When You Believe" (from The Prince of Egypt). She was also the host of Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards more than once, which I watched thinking they were so cool for having a show where the choices of kids mattered. She was also Brandy's fairy godmother in the remake of Cinderella.

I knew her name; I knew her songs. Her presence was just always surrounding my life.  I defended Whitney to my fourth grade teacher when she spoke badly of her for getting arrested for drug possession in her car, which I researched at a later age and found to be false. Whenever her name would creep up in the news, or she'd appear somewhere on TV, I'd always pay attention because she was Whitney Houston. Even when her life was at its lowest in the mid 2000s, I never thought of her as a joke, just someone who had lost their way and I hoped she'd find it again.

I remember the morning her 2009 comeback album, I Look to You, was released. It was the first Monday of classes in my sophomore year of college. I downloaded it and synched it onto my iPod before leaving my room and walking on air around campus that she had given the world with music once more.

You will be missed Whitney, thank you for gracing us with your talent. And I Will Always Love You