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Video: Cissy Houston still ‘very proud’ of daughter Whitney

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    >> cissy houston 's new book is

    called "remembering whitney: a mother's story of life, loss and the night the music stopped." i see you smile when you look at those images.

    >> i have a lot of smiles for her. she's great.

    >> so many people loved your daughter from afar. but she was your little girl .

    >> not as much as i did.

    >> how has this last year been for you? how are you feeling?

    >> i'm all right. i'm getting through it, hopefully.

    >> you write of terrible grief in this book. you write i would be sitting in a chair crushed under a burden of grief and suddenly i would hear someone screaming and then i would realize those screams were coming from me.

    >> yeah.

    >> how did you want to tell this story?

    >> because they have it all wrong about her and our relationship. we had no troubled relationship. we had a great relationship. just because kids, when they get to a certain age, they want to do and don't want their mothers to know. i think people just make up thing things, you know. and it's not like that at all. she and i were very, very close. she knew i loved her and i knew she loved me. there were troubled times with her husband. i think other things troubled her so much, you know.

    >> the last time you saw her, i think, was at christmas, right before she passed away in february.

    >> right.

    >> it sounds like there were some tender moments.

    >> very tender.

    >> what do you remember?

    >> i remember coming there, i was kind of angry, because they didn't come for dinner and all that kind of stuff. but i went some place else. and i was kind of punishing them. but they called me and said, mom, we're here. are you going to come? i said, yes, i will, after i come back from where i'm coming. the next day i did. christmas day i went to new york and i met my children, all of them. and i was so glad to see her. i didn't see her that much but we always communicated in some manner.

    >> then you got that terrible news in february. the l.a. coroner's report ultimately concluded that she passed of a combination of a heart condition but also the use of cocaine. there were many other drugs found in her system. and this was a lifelong struggle, it would seem, with drugs. were you surprised at that point? did you think she was doing better at that point?

    >> i did think she was doing better. and drugs stay in your system a long time. she didn't have to do that that day, you know what i'm saying? it could be a week ago or whatever, what i know about it. i don't really know much about it.

    >> this is a very honest book. you ask yourself some tough questions. you write, should i have done things differently? was i a good mother? was i too hard on her? and the worst one of all, could i have saved her somehow?

    >> i think good mothers, good fathers, good families don't always have great children. bad people have good children. it's all their responsibility when they get to a certain age to choose their way. she was taught, she knew the way.

    >> was there a moment when you knew, i have lost her to this illness, to drug addiction ?

    >> yeah. but when i did that, i went and got her.

    >> is that when you went --

    >> yes.

    >> what did you see when you walked into that house?

    >> she told on oprah what i saw, you know what i'm saying? it's not the way she had been brought up and lived and all that kind of business. things that she didn't do, but things that i thought her husband did, you know.

    >> let me ask you about bobby brown .

    >> i don't know too much about bobby brown . i don't want to talk about bobby brown .

    >> you are very restrained in the book. you say you don't blame him but you're not sure he helped her.

    >> i know he didn't help her. i don't blame him. everybody is responsible for their own actions up to a point, you know. and i think that she was raised, she knew better. and whatever took her to that position, i really don't know.

    >> you write about a woman in the book, somebody that you didn't care for all that much. you say they were very good friends.

    >> they were.

    >> lived together for a time. you say there were rumors that swirled around that relationship. you come to the conclusion you don't honestly know what that relationship was about. in your heart of hearts, what do you think that relationship with that woman was about?

    >> that they were good friends. like raquel welsh , she had a lot of women around her. they thought the same thing about her. she was living her life the way she wanted to do it.

    >> you must miss her terribly.

    >> i miss her so much, i can't even express it.

    >> there's so much heartbreak in this book. you talk about times when you feel like she wasn't in touch as much.

    >> no. well, when children, i think, are doing what they want to do, they don't always call their parents, you know. or whatever. they seem to stay away .

    >> a lot of people come up to you now and say, whitney, she was taken too soon. and you write in the book, you're not sure about that. you have a different perspective on that.

    >> well, i trust in god. and we never know what his -- his ways are not our ways so we have to go with that. and there's nothing i can do about it. i loved her. she was wonderful. i'm very proud of her accomplishments. and i was very proud of her, and i still am.

    >> cissy houston , such a delight to talk to you. i know it's not easy, but we appreciate you being here. we'll talk to you more in our next hour. we look forward to that.

    >> thank you.

    >> the book is called "remembering

By
TODAY books
updated 1/28/2013 8:19:47 AM ET 2013-01-28T13:19:47

Upon hearing of the death of her daughter, global superstar Whitney Houston, on February 11, 2012, Cissy Houston’s life was changed forever. While the world had lost an iconic artist, Houston had lost her own beloved child. In “Remembering Whitney,” Cissy Houston looks back at her daughter’s life and the tragic loss she continues to feel. Here’s an excerpt.

CHAPTER ONE

The Night the Music Stopped

It was the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday when I heard my doorbell ring. I wasn’t expecting anyone, and walking to the door I felt a little irritated about a surprise visit. But when I opened it, no one was there, so I just shut the door and went back to whatever I was doing. Who would be ringing my bell and disappearing in the middle of the day? My apartment building had a doorman, and it wasn’t like people were just dropping by all the time.

Not long after, I heard that bell ring again. I got up and went to answer it, really irritated now. But again, no one was there. Now, this just didn’t make sense. Why would someone be messing with me like this? I called down to the front desk.

“Has anyone come up to see me?” I asked the concierge.

“No, Mrs. Houston,” he said. “I haven’t seen anyone on the cameras, either.” Well then, who was ringing my bell?

Not long after that, around six or six-thirty in the evening, my phone rang. When I picked it up, all I could hear was screaming.

“Oh, Mommy! It’s Nippy! It’s Nippy!” It was my son Gary on the line, and he was hysterical.

“Gary, what’s wrong?”

“It’s Nippy,” he said again. “They found her!”

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“Found her where?”

“They found her upstairs,” he cried. “They found her upstairs and I’m not going back up there!”

“Gary, what happened?” I snapped, frightened now. “You’ve got to tell me what’s wrong!”

He never did say what had happened, maybe because he didn’t know exactly, or maybe because he was in shock. He just kept mumbling, “Oh, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” until I finally said, “Gary, is she dead?”

And he said, “Yes, Mommy. She’s dead.”

And that was the moment my whole world shattered.

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I don’t know what I did or said after that. I was told later that I screamed so loudly that the whole building must have heard me, but my mind was absolutely blank, except for one thought: My baby was gone.

Somehow, people started showing up at my apartment. My niece Diane came, and other friends and family. The phone rang, the doorbell chimed, people brought food, people tried to hug me. But I just sat in my chair, crying. I was in shock, and even now, I really don’t know how I survived that evening—or the days that followed.

As soon as the news got out, all sorts of people surrounded my apartment building. Reporters lined the lobby trying to get in to ask questions, and strangers snuck up to my floor wanting to pay their condolences. The crowds got so thick outside the building that the police had to be called to keep people away. But I didn’t know any of that at the time, because all I could do was weep and moan and wail. All I wanted was to be left alone to grieve for my daughter.

Slideshow: Whitney Houston, 1963-2012 (on this page)

The last time I’d seen Nippy, I had been a little upset with her. It was around the Christmas holidays, just six weeks or so earlier, and she’d suddenly showed up in New York with my granddaughter, Krissie. Nippy wanted me to come into the city and join them, and my sons Gary and Michael, but she hadn’t told me they were coming, so I’d made other plans. I was going up to Sparta, New Jersey, to have Christmas dinner with my friend Nell, and I didn’t feel right breaking it off, since we’d been planning it for a long time. I wanted to see Nippy, of course, but I just wished she would give me a little more notice when she was coming through.

So I went up to Sparta and spent the night there, and then the next day Nippy called me again, asking me to please come into New York and see them. She was staying at the New York Palace hotel, and Gary and Michael and their wives and children were all there, so it looked to be a nice family reunion. I went into Manhattan, excited to see the whole family together, which was a real rarity these days.

Nippy had just finished working on her new movie, Sparkle, and she looked fantastic. The whole day she was in good spirits—laughing and joking with her brothers, and playing with the kids. She’d always had a good relationship with her brothers, and as I watched them laughing together it felt like old times. We had all been through a lot in recent years, but this day it felt like we didn’t have a care in the world.

At one point in the day, as I was sitting on the sofa, Nippy leaned over and put her head in my lap. This was something she didn’t do all that often, but I always loved it when she did. She and I were very different people, and like any mother and daughter, we’d had our difficult moments over the years. But when Nippy would put her head in my lap, those were the moments that bonded us together, and I cherished them.

Video: Details emerge about Houston’s final days (on this page)

I knew Nippy was returning to Atlanta the next day, and I hated that our visit was so short. I was always asking her to come up and visit, as I hadn’t gotten to see very much of her in recent years. But now that she seemed to be in a better place, with her new movie and a new lightness about her, I hoped that would change. As I got ready to leave, Nippy and I stood talking at the door.

“I’ll come back soon, Mommy,” she said. “I’ve got to go to L.A. for the Grammys in February, but I’ll come see you after that.”

My daughter had come a long way from being a skinny little girl with a big voice growing up in Newark, New Jersey. She had traveled the world and become a sophisticated, powerful woman—but there was something in our relationship that always brought out the child in her.

When I looked at Nippy, I saw the little girl who used to grab a broom and belt out songs in our basement studio like she was onstage at Carnegie Hall. And I saw the uncertain girl who wanted everyone to like her, who just wanted to sing to make people happy—not to sell millions of records or be a global superstar.

But she did become a superstar, and the pressures that brought eventually overwhelmed her. She endured so much, and was criticized so mercilessly by people who didn’t understand her—people who didn’t know who she was. She always used to say to me, “Mommy, I just want to sing.” Yet that would never be enough.

Harper

For everything Nippy went through, with drugs, with her relationships, with the pitfalls of fame, she really did seem to be on an upswing in the weeks before she died. During those weeks, whenever we spoke on the phone, she sounded so good, like she was feeling better than she had in years.

When she called me in early February, though, just before she left for Los Angeles and the Grammy Awards, she didn’t sound like herself. There was a sadness in her voice. Nippy never liked to share her problems with me, so I didn’t know exactly what was wrong. We all have our ups and downs, so I didn’t worry too much about it. I knew she’d be busy in Los Angeles, with the awards and all the other events that went on, and I didn’t really expect to hear from her again while she was there.

But on the Friday before the awards, she did call me. She sounded a little better, though she still didn’t share much of what was going on. I don’t remember most of what we talked about, but I do remember the last thing she said to me on the phone. Back in December, she had promised to come see me after the Grammys, and before she hung up on that Friday, she said it again. “I’ll be home soon, Mommy,” she told me.

“I promise.”

Those were the last words I would ever hear her speak.

The next day, Nippy died. And the days that followed were a seemingly endless blur of grief and pain. There were times when I didn’t think I could live through the despair of losing my baby girl. I just couldn’t believe I would never see her, or hear her voice, in this world again. I still can’t believe it.

But I did take solace in one thing. On that terrible day, when my doorbell kept ringing in those hours before Gary’s call, I believe it was my beautiful Nippy, keeping her promise to me—that somehow, some way, she came to see me, just as she said she would.

Excerpted from the book REMEMBERING WHITNEY. Copyright © 2013 by Cissy Houston with Lisa Dickey. Published by Harper, an imprint of the HarperCollins Publishers.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

Photos: Whitney Houston: 1963-2012

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  1. A life in the spotlight

    Whitney Houston, seen here at the 2009 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, has died at age 48 after an acclaimed career and a life that kept her in tabloid headlines. Stardom was in Houston's family -- mom Cissy Houston is a Grammy-winning singer, Dionne Warwick is her cousin, and Aretha Franklin was her godmother. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images file) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Grammy gold

    Producer Clive Davis and Houston appear onstage at the 2011 Pre-Grammy Gala and Salute To Industry Icons Honoring David Geffen at the Beverly Hilton on Feb. 12, 2011, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Nearly one year later almost to the day, Houston would be found dead at the same hotel. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. London calling

    Houston performs at the O2 Arena in London on April 25, 2010. (Samir Hussein / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. We are family

    Houston, cousin Dionne Warwick and Houston's teenage daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, arrive at the 2011 Pre-Grammy Gala in 2011. (Larry Busacca / Getty Images For The Recording A) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. On stage

    Houston speaks during the 51st Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in 2009. Six Grammys were among her lifetime total of more than 400 musical honors. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Ladies of music

    Dionne Warwick, Houston and Natalie Cole perform together during a tour in Germany in 2009, the first time the three had ever sung together. (Joerg Koch / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. In Israel

    Husband Bobby Brown and Houston toured Israel in 2003. Here, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon welcomes them to his residence. (Quique Kierszenbaum / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Dynamic duo

    Brown and Houston perform during the "VH1 Divas" duets show in Las Vegas in 2003. They wed in 1992, and she gave birth to daughter Bobbi Kristina a year later. The couple divorced in 2007. (Joe Cavaretta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Divas forever

    Houston and Mary J. Blige perform on the "VH1 Divas Las Vegas" concert in 2002. (Frank Micelotta / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Pretty in pink

    Houston holds her Grammy award for Best Female Rythm and Blues Vocal Performance for "It's Not Right But It's Okay" at the 2000 Grammy Awards. (Vince Bucci / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. In court

    Houston and Brown are seen in a Georgia court in 2002. He had been arrested on an outstanding bench warrant for a 1996 DUI. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. And baby makes three

    Houston and Brown are seen with daughter Bobbi Kristina, then 6, in 1998. (Lucy Nicholson / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. With Mariah

    Houston and Mariah Carey recorded "When You Believe" as a duet in 1998. When Carey first became popular, she sounded so similar to Houston that many thought Carey's songs were actually Houston singing. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Moving on to movies

    Houston also starred in numerous movies, including 1996's "The Preacher's Wife." (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Love is in the air

    Houston was honored at the 1994 Grammys, winning record of the year for "I Will Always Love You" and album of the year for the soundtrack from her movie "The Bodyguard." She is shown with producer David Foster, who shared the honors with her. (Pool / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. 'The Bodyguard'

    In the 1992 film "The Bodyguard," Kevin Costner plays a bodyguard hired to protect Houston's character, a singer, from an unknown stalker. (ZUMA Press/Newscom) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Stunning anthem

    Houston's performance of the national anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl is thought by some to be one of the best versions of the song ever sung. It was released as a single and reached the Top 20. (George Rose / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Houston performing in 1988. (Dave Hogan / Hulton Archive / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Early days

    Houston belts out a song in 1986. Even before she became known as a singer, Houston gained fame as a model, and perennial Seventeen Magazine cover girl. She was one of the first women of color to make the teen magazine's cover. (Elise Amendola / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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