I went back to the phone and Whitney said, "What, was that her?" And I said "Yea." She said, "What did she say?" I said, "Everything you said she said." She said "OK. Now if she changes her mind, then we're all good. But if she comes home, I have a reservation. I'm going to come up and finish the concert."
That was huge for me. I mean, it just again showed the commitment. I think friendships are things [that] you have to invest in, and she invested so much into our relationship and vice versa. So when she needed someone to talk to – and Whitney would talk a lot and it was always in the wee hours of the night. One phone call, I think I put this in the book, I remember she called me from Hong Kong and we talked for five, six hours. I got nervous in hour three. I said, "Whitney if they make a mistake at the telephone company and charge me, I want you to know my phone is going off" and she said, "They ain't going to get it wrong" but we were there for each other. I just finished an interview and he said, "Why do you think the relationship was so important?" and I said because what we found in each other was a sanctuary. She knew as well as I knew, I can tell you any and every thing and know it will stay right there. And when we think of God, that's why we love Him as much as we love Him. He knows everything about us and yet He still chooses to love us right where we are and so that's the kind of love that we shared with each other.
CP: The relationship that you just described flowed out of a "pact" mentioned in the book among Whitney, CeCe and yourself. The pact stated that each one of you promised to share every major life decision with each other. So, did Whitney tell about you about her relationship with R&B Singer Bobby Brown and what where your thoughts when she shared that relationship with you?
Winans: One of the things when she made that pact and agreed to make the pact as well was nothing was off-limits and we would talk about anything and everything. And so long story short, when it came to Bobby, we had our talk and she knew I didn't believe that he was the husband for her. I could be honest like that and she respected my opinion, and I respected her opinion and her feelings. She fell in love with him. Yet and still we had the commitment with each other to say any and everything through the whole marriage.
I know one thing about love and people: when you make up your mind about someone and something, you're going to do it. When you do, one of the things that we committed to each other is that I'm going to be there whether I agree or not. Whether I understand or not, I'm going to be there. I'll tell you the truth, and I'll be there.
So, it is a great loss, but one of the things I can rest in is that no-regrets style of commitment and loyalty and friendship and love that we shared with each other.
CP: In the book, you discuss the media frequently and state that the media had various perceptions of Whitney. One of the perceptions that the media had even while she was alive but especially after she died was that her relationship with Bobby changed her. What are your thoughts on that notion?
Winans: I think to answer that correctly [you have to ask] "do people change in a relationship?" Yea, I think we all change especially in marriage. Sometimes we change because we want to and the older you get, you evolve. So the Whitney of 45 was different from the Whitney of 25.
Yet and still the honest answer for everything is [she was] grown. We respected each other's opinions but yet and still we gave each other space because you're an adult and you can choose to do what you want to do.
So in that freedom, Whitney, just like any of us, made some good choices and made some bad choices. But when it comes to Bobby Brown particularly, I don't think he is deserving of any blame because Whitney – I believe I said in the book in the beginning – as sophisticated as she was, she was unruly. She was defiant. When she made up her mind, she made up her mind. So that was way before Bobby.
Were there good years? Yes. Were there good times? Yes. But in any situation, in any marriage you're going to have dark times and bad times, and something I wrote for the wedding and sang at the wedding addressed those issues.
CP: What were the lyrics of that wedding song?
Winans: It was called "Enough Said." The lyrics are in the book. But it told them feelings come and go, it's just a marriage trait. But you must communicate. Sometimes the vows that you just now pledged, you're going to dread but enough said.
CP: Do you feel that struggles that you have with your own family and your own marriage drew you closer to Whitney during her marriage?
Winans: No, not really. When we met, I was just married for about three years or so. I was married for 18 years. I've been divorced/separated for 12 years. But I think anyone who is married or has been married can definitely speak to someone who is married and going through situations. So I could speak into her life and draw from things I endured. That is the reality of life and the world that we live in. What I can say more than anything is don't say nothing, just pray. I learned that if you try to justify yourself like the Bible says, with those same words, you'll condemn yourself. People want to believe what they want to believe and I learned that a long time ago. Most importantly from the scriptures we say, "If God be for you, who can be against you" and that's the truth.
CP: What was Whitney like as a mother?
Winans: Oh gosh. I think every mother, every parent, when your first become one, you are extra careful. She was extra, extra, extra on our nerves careful. When Bobbi Kristina was first born and we came over, we just laughed because not only did she have a mask for you, she had gloves like it was a hospital. We were like, "Really? OK, give you about two weeks and you're going to pass this baby to people who got germs."
We just laughed at her but she was happiest in her role as a mother. And then, as times went on, she called a couple times and said, "I'm going to kill that girl."
But she was an incredible a mother – a mother that wanted to stay home more than she was afforded to. And that's what's made what she did so difficult and who she was (as a singer) became so difficult.
CP: What would Whitney say to Bobbi-Christina Brown now?
Winans: I miss you and I love you still.
CP: You talk a lot in the book about the media's propensity to exaggerate and fixate on celebrities. How should the media treat celebs in your opinion?
Winans: The media is going to be the media. I hope and I anticipate but I don't think that they're going to change their ways. There may be one person.
If anything, I would love to say why don't we first of all get the truth first before we speak and just remember that we all are human beings and words can hurt. In doing that and caring for each other, I think that the media and even beyond the media we would make things more from the heart instead of the head.
CP: Was Whitney sensitive to the media?
Winans: I don't think [she was] sensitive, I think [she was] insensitive because after a while you learn to protect yourself from certain things especially if it's not something that good.
At the same time, I understood the importance of the media. A song just came into my head, "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." You really have to understand how to react, what to do and when to do it. That's a little more put on you than the average Joe. But you learn that comes with the territory.
CP: While the book talks so much about the Whitney Houston that was not visible to the public, it also talks a lot about God and spiritual lessons that you both learned together and in the wake of her life. So what do you want readers to take away from this book?
Winans: I think what the readers will find is a simplicity. Sometimes we make God something that is more confusing and difficult when it's so simple. The reality is God loved. He loved us and this is before and this is while we were yet in sin and when we fall. So it's easy and I understand that God loved her and she loved God because that's who He is. And whether through song or through this book or whatever, I want the readers to know that they are loved by that same God.
CP: In the book, you wrote that you were still in the early stages of the goodbye process, where everything hurts. Where are you in the goodbye process now?
Winans: I'm on the other side with more laughter and smiles than tears. What I've learned through my brother's passing and my father is that no one can replace her and I'll think of her every single day of my life.
CP: How will the pact of friendship and openness that you had with Whitney live on?
Winans: One of things that I learned though the loss of my brother Ronald is it's a mystery how when you lose someone is how the physical touch, which you assume is greater than the memory, they kind of trade places. I found with my brother's passing and my father's passing is that I appreciate you more. I even love you more. I think it's just human nature that we don't miss what we have until its gone, and so I think of him more – when I think of my father. I get the lessons he was teaching me now, you know, now that he's gone. I think it will be the same way with Whitney. I'll love her more, I'll think about her more than when she was living.
And it's a lesson that if we can learn to appreciate and love those [people] while they're here, it would be such a greater experience between the love of loved ones.