From the moment we first feel beings around us, whether they be human or otherwise, a need begins to form. A baby yearns for the symbiotic host it has yet to see. A child stands anxiously in line at school, not wanting loneliness to find them. An adult searches through the eyes of others, hoping that one will bring them happiness. On the basest level of the human existence, we crave friendship. As we grow older, settling for lukewarm relationships feels less like giving up, and more like growing up. We don’t expect friendships to last forever anymore and why would we? In this ever changing world, we change with it and shouldn’t we expect our tastes in companionship to change too? But, what happens when it doesn’t? What price are you willing to pay for lasting friendships? In A Song For You by Robyn Crawford, she speaks of her friendship with the famed and acclaimed, Whitney Houston, in the warmest and most endearing way. Each page written, each word spoken, is an ode to the obvious love and care she had for her dear and now deceased friend, but what did that cost her?
Robyn was what most would consider a good girl. Athletic, smart, responsible, going places in this world on her own. When she met the girl that would go on to be her best friend, her life was on track and moving along steadily. Whitney, who had been experimenting with drugs at an early age, had no qualms about doing them in front of her, and because Robyn saw herself as a good friend, she joined in. Robyn never blamed Whitney for her own drug use, always taking full responsibility for herself. But, it is clear that her love for Whitney led her to do things that she otherwise would not have done.
After years of continued and close friendship, Robyn made the decision to stop chasing her own dreams, so she could help Whitney catch hers. This became a life long story for Robyn, either putting her goals second to those of Whitney’s or intermingling them so that they both aligned. For her part, Whitney didn’t neglect their friendship in the beginning, nor did she ever seem to do it on purpose. She made sure everyone knew that Robyn would always be there by her side, no matter where she went. From the Grammy award winning icon’s highest highs, to her lowest lows, Robyn was always welcomed by Whitney. The friendship that they shared was visceral, just as deep and vital in both of them as a liver within the human body. But, just like one can corrupt and sicken a liver by poor life choices, so goes a friendship that is not evenly yoked.
As drugs and an abusive Bobby Brown became a bigger part of Whitney’s life, Robyn’s space in it grew slimmer. It wasn’t that she was not welcomed within Whitney’s circle of companions, it was more so that she no longer fit in. Even though she’d done them liberally at one point, Robyn had never become addicted to drugs, and had stopped doing them all together, despite Whitney’s carrying on. She tried to get her friend to stop as well, but Whitney was surrounded by people who cared more about their standing in her life financially, than about her health. In the end, the only voice of reason that could reach her, was the one that she actively ignored. Whitney wasn’t an addict for recreational purposes, though. She suffered from the daunting task of having to put up with the expectations of parents who treated her like a cash cow, a husband who abused and demeaned her, and a public that made fun of her appearance, while clamoring for more appearances to be made. There was one part in the book when Robyn was comforting Whitney after having been rejected, and Whit tearfully said, “Why don’t they like me?”
That felt like the constant soundtrack that played in Whitney’s mind her entire life. Always doing her best, always trying hard, always giving her all, but always being made to feel as though she would never be good enough or worthy enough of love. Eventually, Robyn’s self preservation instincts kicked in, and she chose to leave Whitney to the vices and torment that she refused to extradite herself from. In the end though, Robyn nearly lost out on love.
Whitney and Robyn had a brief physical relationship that they’d both agreed to stop. Whitney went on to date men exclusively, while Robyn remained more eclectic in her tastes. Whitney’s response to Robyn dating men was often tame, but at the mention of another woman, she’d become angry and emotional. Could this be because she thought her friend was sinning? Or was it because Whit felt as though Robyn could only commit such sins with her alone, and only in the past? We may never know, but what was evident was that any aspect of Robyn’s life that didn’t in someway connect to Whitney’s, suffered. Even when Robyn did become romantically interested in someone, she feared showing her feelings too strongly, lest she hurt Whitney’s. It was not until she ended her employment with her best friend, and moved clear across the country, that she finally allowed herself the ability to have a relationship of her own. But, were all the years spent in the company of her closest friend of any benefit to Robyn, despite having to delay finding her soulmate? Was the price of friendship, worth the cost of love? Ultimately, that is a question that only Robyn can answer. At the end of the day, it is a question that we all have to ask, and answer, for ourselves.