“…she is with me; if I allow her to be. I can smile again if I let the memory of her presence on this earth exist as a gift, and not a loss.”- Rashad Haughton, 2001
“You don’t have to hold on to the pain to hold on to the memory.”-Janet Jackson
It took me awhile to really understand and apply their concepts. After years of avoiding any Aaliyah material, I started watching old Aaliyah interviews on YouTube. I couldn’t help but laugh and smile at a lot of it; it reminded me of why I liked her so much. I was thinking “Man, she was hilarious and cool as heck. I remember seeing this and wanting to hang out with her.” With watching anything Michael- related, all of it took me back to a specific childhood memory. I was that 7-year-old kid again who didn’t have a care in the world. It all made feel so warm and happy inside. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. It dawned on me at that point, that because of both of them, I had all these happy memories to go back to that you can’t buy, take away or replace. There’s this safe place in my mind and heart that I can escape to whenever I just want to smile. Yes, I had them and lost them, but if I had to choose between having/losing them vs. never having them at all, I choose having/losing. I feel so grateful to have been a part of the generation that was there when their music was made. As Rashad noted, having them present was such a wonderful gift, and to remember that gift now as only a symbol of loss wouldn’t do them justice. It takes time to get to this point, I think. At the beginning, it’s indescribably hard to NOT focus on the loss. Some people don’t get passed focusing on the loss. But part of the reason why the loss hurts like it does is because of the beautiful things that person gave you. You miss having that. The loss itself will never stop being painful or sad, but you can choose what to focus on. It takes a lot of emotional energy and work, but you CAN choose. I hope this helps someone out there.