When A Star Passes On

In the Name of God, the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful

Whitney Houston was laid to rest today in a star-studded funeral in her hometown in New Jersey. I still remember precisely where I was when the news first broke that she had passed away: in my parents kitchen. I was truly shocked, not the least because she was quite young at 48.

Yet, why was her passing such big news? As a physician, I see people - even younger than Ms. Houston - die on a regular basis, but it usually does not garner any media attention. Yes, of course, it is because she was so famous and talented a singer, and we will truly miss the grace of her voice. Yet, there is something more.

Whenever a star passes on, it reminds us that they are human beings like us: they are subject to the laws of God (or nature, if you prefer), and as certain as being taxed, all human beings will die one day. It seems that, perhaps, we take for granted that singers and other stars will be there forever to entertain us whenever we want them to. As the case of Ms. Houston shows, they will not.

Yet, leaving the suddenness of Ms. Houston's death aside, whenever a singer or movie star passes away - say in their old age - it is perhaps a reminder of our own mortality. It is definitely so for me. As I get older, and the stars that I grew up watching and enjoying their talents pass away one by one, it reminds me that I am on the very same path; that I am just as mortal as these famous people.

But that fact should not depress us: it should remind us to never take our lives and the time we have been given for granted. We should try to make each and every day as meaningful and full as possible. When my eldest daughter was diagnosed with a crippling and ultimately fatal disorder - Ataxia-Telangiectasia - in 2006, I knew that one day I would have to bury her (which came to pass in 2009).

But, I did not let that horrific fact paralyze me: I vowed to make every day with her the best possible, to live the fullest with her each and every day we were together. And by the grace of the Precious Beloved, we did just that. Although I still miss her terribly with all my heart, I have no regrets that I did not appreciate her to the fullest.

If there is to be any good from Whitney Houston's death, may it be a reminder that life is precious, and we should try make each and every second the best they can possibly be.

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