eighty-three: dignity

all day saturday, i couldn’t think of what piece of what song it was, circling in my head, that had the word dignity in it…and then it came to me, finally, as we drove from brunch. it was from whitney houston’s ‘greatest love of all.’

when i was younger, my dad had this record, and i remember studying it for a really long time. she was so so beautiful. i mean, look at her.


i was in the fourth grade, so i had already had loads of crushes on girls and women (my friend’s sister, my grade three teacher, a few random tv stars) (but truly had no idea i may have been gay, that didn’t come til later) but i reaaaaaalllly loved me some whitney. my ten year old self thought she was so exotic…and that voice, phew.


in fact, one of my first big concerts was to see whitney houston (i feel like it was in junior high), at an arena. i was on the floor, maybe eight rows back? (i have no idea who i went with…i totally can’t remember!) i was mesmerized. i knew all the songs. and, i swore up and down that she looked straight at me as she blew a kiss to the crowd.


later, in high school, i auditioned for a musical with this song. ambitious much?! shit. clearly too young and naive to have any sense of how ridiculous it was for a teenaged white girl to sing it, ugh i’m cringing now thinking of our theatre director, good lord must he have rolled his eyes.

but…i got the part. whitney was on my side.


the other thing i thought of in relation to this word was about death…dignity at the end of one’s life. if you read obituaries (which i used to, routinely) this is a word that is used often in relation to death, and i’m fairly curious about it.

the ironic part of my association game with whitney houston is how completely undignified a death she had. face down in a bathtub, possibly drowned, with a motley cocktail of alcohol and drugs in her system, at the age of 48.

but honestly, what does a dignified death even mean? that you don’t go sobbing and kicking and screaming? that you accept that it’s happening? that you welcome it? that you lie back with a peaceful beatific smile on your face and drift off to sleep? i don’t quite have a sense for what it all entails, but i do know that i want one, when the time comes.

yes, i will go with dignity. i’ve decided.

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