Whether you were a fan or not, Whitney Houston's death Saturday was filled with tragedy.
She was yet another talented entertainer who died way too young; Whitney was just 48. Although drugs, booze or both may possibly have played a part in her untimely death -- Whitney had long struggled with substance abuse -- most people are sympathetic to those who try get themselves clean and sober, as Whitney did, even if with limited success.
Plus she leaves behind a daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, a promising young singer who at age 18 is way too young to lose a mother.
But there was yet another tragedy that day. Whitney's former husband, Bobby Brown, gave a performance just hours after learning that Whitney had died. Despite being "visibly shaken" and offering a no-doubt sincere tribute to his former wife -- declaring, "I love you, Whitney" while blowing kisses to the sky while on stage -- the soul singer said he decided to go on with the show because fans of his group New Edition had been loyal for more than 25 years.
Few would doubt that he had loyal fans to whom he felt a responsibility. But it's hard not to question why that responsibility took precedence over the one he has to his daughter, who has been hospitalized twice since her mother's death. True, he flew late Sunday to Los Angeles to be with Bobbi Kristina, who is now is with family, reports say. But why wouldn't a father drop everything and run immediately to be by his daughter's side after the death of her mother? Even if your marriage was troubled -- and the tumultuous 14 years Bobby and Whitney spent together until their acrimonious 2007 divorce were well documented -- shouldn't a parent's responsibility to his or her child always come first?
Perhaps we shouldn't be too quick to judge. Whitney had full custody of Bobbi, who was just 14 when Whitney and Bobby divorced. The two were very close (even allegedly going to rehab together) -- maybe too close to have a healthy mother-daughter relationship.
"Bobbi Kristina basically grew up (as) her mother's caretaker," according to US Weekly editor Ian Drew. "In a way, she was the adult in (the) relationship."
No child should be an adult in a parent-child relationship, which sometimes happens in divorced families. Not only does it create a dysfunction, but where does the non-custodial parent, like Bobby, fit into a relationship like that?
Maybe no place. Maybe Bobbi Kristina didn't want her father to comfort her after her mother's death.
As troubled as Whitney and Bobby's marriage may have been, their custody battle wasn't much better. Bobby, who sued Whitney for spousal support, child support and shared custody, claimed he was being shut out of his daughter's life. "Since Whitney has been awarded sole legal and physical custody of Bobbi Kris, she has attempted to eliminate me from Bobbi Kris' life ... I have not seen or spoken to my daughter since early June and I have no prospect of speaking to her or seeing her anytime soon due to Whitney's actions," Brown wrote in 2007.
There are many fathers who can relate to Bobby's story.
Whitney argued that Bobby had been "almost totally uninvolved" in taking care of Bobbi Kristina. "We have a daughter together and I would like him to be involved in her life," she said.
There are many mothers who can relate to Whitney's story.
It's unclear just how involved Bobby had been in Bobbi Kristina's life, before and after the divorce. It's also unclear whether he was allowed to be in Bobbi Kristina's life, either by Whitney or his daughter or both.
And that, if true, is the real tragedy.