When I heard the news on Saturday that Amy Winehouse had passed away, my impulse was not to write about her death…or her life. Although I am a fan of her music and have followed her over the years, I don’t know if I’m capable of deeply connecting emotionally with musicians that I’ve discovered as an adult. No, that kind of ability to attach ended for me when I left my teens, I think.
I think the saddest part of hearing that she’d died—and I’ve heard many others say the same thing—was that I didn’t have any sense of shock. I was stunned, yes, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that it was inevitable.
That isn’t true, of course; it’s impossible to chart the course of a person’s life based solely on addiction or tabloid new coverage. Everyone follows their own path—no fate was etched in stone for Amy. But here we are. She’s gone, and the world doesn’t get her back.
Amid all of the belabored chatter about the (in)significance of her age (enough, already) and her last performance and all of her many troubles that played out in front of the world, there was this article, written by Rabbi Shais Taub, who works toward recovery with Jewish addicts:
There is a lesson to be learned from every death. To anybody out there going through the living hell of active addiction—whether you yourself are an addict or you are someone who loves an addict—here is my message to you. Please know that it’s not that you haven’t tried everything there is to try. It’s not that you’re not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, determined enough. You could multiply your efforts and your will power by literally a million times, you could have the whole world on your side, and still face the same heartbreaking outcome in the end.
So who knows if this was inevitable, really. We don’t know. I do think Amy wanted to live, and I do believe that if she’d managed to get herself straight again she’d have given us a whole lot more music to enjoy. Let’s remember that no person should be defined solely by a tragic death or by an addiction. As it is, though, she’s gone, and we’re left with what managed to get out of her heart before she went down.