RIP Amy Winehouse (1983-2011)

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Amy Winehouse died three years ago today. I remember seeing her at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia with my friends Ed and Kate a few months before she died. She looked very skinny and drawn and was wearing those tiny faded jean shorts and gold belt with a tank top with flimsy and often dirty pink ballet slippers, an outfit she was very fond of at the time. I was hoping she would be great and not sick and doing a shaky job as she had been in shows prior. She did not disappoint. She even came back for an encore. I was so happy and admittedly, a little drunk, and nearly fell off the second floor bar balcony because I was cheering so hard. It was all very exciting but I still had a worried pit in my stomach. She was obviously wasting away and looked very unhealthy.

The day she died, I was a mess. I went to my friend Roland’s house and pounded on the door. I couldn’t even speak at first. When Roland answered the door, I blubbered that “AMY DIED! AMY WINEHOUSE DIED! SHE’S DEAD! SHE’S DEAD!” and I pushed past him to get to his computer in his bedroom where I proceeded to watch all my favorite Amy videos for a few hours. Roland’s partner Bill inquired as to why I was slobbering on Roland’s desk as I sobbed between singing badly in waves of shudders. Roland simply waved at him and said “Amy’s dead. It’s okay.” I didn’t want my kids to see me looking so despairing and sloppy sad so I was glad to have a safe haven to let it all hang out wildly.

The next day, I was supposed to go to a toddler’s first birthday. I was going to stay home but my husband implored me to go. “Diane, it would be good for you to get out. Try your best to enjoy the day.” Begrudgingly, I went to the Pop Shop, a cute 50’s style comfort food restaurant in Collingswood, NJ. I tried to be happy but I couldn’t. Amy was dead. There was not a damn thing anyone could do about it. So I sat there, with sunglasses on and drank a whole bottle of red. When people tried to talk to me, all I could say was… “Amy’s dead. Can I order some fries?…Amy’s dead. HAAAAAAPPPPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUUUUUUUUU…” My friend recalled this at a party the other night and I know they felt for me but they were also laughing. I still feel devastated. I can’t even listen to ‘Rehab.’ We all thought she was so tongue-in-cheek at first, that she could conquer her disease and she was so tough she didn’t need help. I wish she had gone as many times as it took so she might still be alive today. I am sobbing as I write this.

For months, even years leading up to her death, I watched as TMZ, Perez Hilton and the like would report on her and Blaaaaaaaake! (as she used to scream), their tumultuous, violent and drug addled love affair played itself out all over any place she and he traveled. Sometimes they’d be bloodied and her thick cat eye make-up smeared her face mixed with tears and snot. I was part of email lists where people made bets on when she would die, very sure that she would die. I tried to offer up hope, remind them that many addicts and self harmers come topside, not to be so quick to judge and delight in their potential windfall from the correct predictions. This was a person’s life and suffering. But she died anyway.

This is a poem I wrote before Amy died 3 years ago. Of course she never read it but I hoped my energy and hope would reach her somehow:

Oh, Amy, what will become of you?

Please, please Amy, come to your senses

Not one can save you but yourself

Awaken from this long hatred of yourself

This toxicity, mutilation, starvation…

Is this a long, drawn out suicide ending

That you have already written?


Do you remember those beautiful dreams

The ones that brought you peace

Sparkling like little stars in your hands

Have they slipped through your fingers

Long distant like Dinah Washington’s voice

When you first heard her on vinyl?


Please, please Amy, come to your senses

Not one can save you but yourself

Even if you never utter another note

Retiring to Cotswold in a nice cottage

Breathing in green instead of black tar

We will still love you and cherish your soul.