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August 25, 2010


When I was growing up, I idolized Aaliyah. I loved everything about her. She was my first friend-in-my-head (you have to know Wendy Williams to understand). Her style, her hair, her dancing, her music and videos, and I appreciated that she was such a down to earth star at a young age. Like I’ve stated in the past, my sister had an influence on the way I dressed when I was a teenager (as did Aaliyah)and she basically introduced Aaliyah’s music to me too.

I still remember the day I heard of her passing 9 years ago  (I can’t believe it’s been that long). My mom and I were in Chicago because my grandfather was in the hospital. After a few heart wrenching weeks, my grandfather ended up passing away. On August 25th we attended my granfather’s funeral. After the service and reception, my family and I went back to my grandfather’s house, where I got a call from my best friend at the time:

Her: “I have to tell you something. And it’s really bad.”

Me: “What…what happened?”

Her: “Okay, this is hard for me to say….but…”

Me:”Just tell me..”

Her:”……………………………………………” (long azz pause)

Me:” What are you waiting for…what happened??”

Her:”……Aaliyah died.”


Her:”Yeah, she died.”

Me:”I don’t believe’re joking with me.”

Her:”I wish I could say I was but I’m not joking with you, I’m so serious right now..”

Me:”You know this is not a funny joke, I don’t believe you.”

Her:”I would never lie to you about this, I’m really not joking….I’m sorry.”

Me:”Are you for real…I mean really for real……what?….I can’t believe this…..”

Her:”She died in a plane crash…I’m sorry…”

From there I got off the phone with her. I was standing in the driveway outside my grandfather’s house shocked by what she had told me, not really being able to move. Then I ran into the house and turned on the tv. The story was on all of the news channels. All I remember seeing was the video of the Cessna plane smashed into a number of pieces in the middle of trees and brush and a lone passenger seat out a few feet away almost in tact, with no one in it. And for some reason I kept searching for a glimpse of Aaliyah, any sign of her, even if it was someone pulling her away to a hospital on a stretcher taking her into safety. But there was nothing….nothing but the voice of news reporters saying she had died amongst others.

I sat there in complete shock.

It took me a couple of hours to believe the death was real even after watching multiple channels with news stories on her on from MTV to ABC. Once I realized that my best friend wasn’t joking, I cried.

Just hours before, I had come back from my grandfather’s funeral. My grandfather’s death affected me more than anyone’s else’s death in my family since I was closer to him than other relatives who had deceased. And now I was dealing with the death of someone who I admired from afar.

It was very weird for me to say the least. I was still dealing with the overwhelming feelings for my grandfather who knew me since I was born, who I had spent time with, whose house I’d been to every weekend growing up, who my mother got her laugh from, and who I loved and cherished. Add to that the dichotomy of feeling loss for someone I’d always wanted to meet.  And though did not know Aaliyah personally, she was very real to me in the realm of my world because had great love for her, and knew so much about her. Looking back on how I acted after learning of her death, it kind of surprised me that I reacted the way I did because I did not know her.

But I guess it’s like when Michael Jackson died. I’m not talking about how much MJ’s death affected millions of fans worldwide, I’m speaking of the specific impact it had on the fans who really loved him from a fan base level. I’m talking about loving someone as much as you can without actually knowing them because they have impacted your life in such a positive way. That’s how Aaliyah’s death affected me.

Sometime’s I sit and think of how the music industry would be different if she were still here. I used to be so adamant about them making a movie of her life similar to the Selena movie but now I hope they don’t (word has it Keshia Chante is playing her in a biopic, but I see nothing listed on I’d rather everyone just let her legacy BE….

             R.I.P. Aaliyah Dana Haughton


        January 16, 1979-August 25, 2001

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