Last week, two women who once earned national attention with their talents died.
One died Saturday at age 48, appearing to be the victim of choices that led to a tumultuous lifestyle and being dragged down by the whirlpool of addiction.
The other, the victim of a near-fatal skiing accident in 1955 during competition at Alta Ski Resort, died last Thursday at age 75. The accident involving the aspiring Olympian and national slalom champion, who had earlier made the cover of Sports Illustrated, was followed by 57 years of being paralyzed from the shoulders down.
The first, Whitney Houston, is remembered as one of the best singers in history when she was at the top of her game.
Houston sang one of the best and most moving renditions of the national anthem at the Super Bowl in 1991 during the stress of the first Gulf War.
She also provided the inspiration for the 1988 Summer Olympics with the song "One Moment in Time."
Houston had many hits, showcasing a fantastic vocal range. But many questioned her 1992 marriage to Bobby Brown and her subsequent pattern of drug addiction. Her voice lost its range and became raspy. Her behavior became erratic, noticed again just days before she died.
There is no official cause of death after Houston was found unresponsive in a Beverly Hills hotel room bathtub, but one can't help but wonder if there would have been many more wonderful songs if only her choices had gone a different direction and she had listened to the following portion of "One Moment in Time."
"When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
"And the answers are all up to me."
Meanwhile, Jill Kinmont Boothe ended up with a lifelong disability decades before the Americans With Disabilities Act.
With her skiing days behind her, Boothe battled for the right to become a teacher.
She eventually got her degree and taught for many years, usually with students who needed remedial instruction. She also excelled at using her shoulder and neck muscles to paint.
As paraplegic of 19 years, I know that life with paralysis is difficult. More than the wheelchair, there are numerous medical glitches that come, go and sometimes hang around longer than we would like.
There are days when we'd throw the disability out the window if we could. I'm sure Boothe had many discouraging days, but she emphasized the positive.
It would have been easy for Boothe to quit, but her outlook led to a quality life.
"My life has really been very full," Boothe is quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times. "I've had lots of wonderful experiences."
There you have it -- two very talented women. One, we wonder what could have been. The other, thanks for persevering.
Christensen is the Standard-Examiner's presentation editor.