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I can’t exactly remember what I was doing at 8:22 p.m. on Feb. 11, 2012, but according to Facebook, that’s the exact time I found out Whitney Houston died.

As a girl growing up in New Jersey, not too far from where Houston grew up, we took pride in her being one of Jersey’s own. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see Houston or her mother, Cissy Houston, walking through downtown Newark or sitting in a church congregation other than their own. During my middle school graduation, our chorus belted out “The Greatest Love of All,” at the top of our lungs, horribly, but there was not one girl in that chorus who didn’t want to be Houston.

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After I found out about Houston’s death, I remember my eyes welling up with tears. I immediately clicked onto YouTube to witness what made her great. From classics like “The Greatest Love of All” to “I Will Always Love You,” it’s safe to say that Houston’s vocals will always be incomparable.

Although Houston had her fair share of demons and died because of one of them, I’ll never forget the time I was standing in a deli in Mendham Township, N.J., during a lunch break. I didn’t see who came through the door, but when the cashier said, “Hello, Ms. Houston,” I immediately froze. She came to the side of me and simply asked how my day was going, and waited for me to finish my order. As I tried to contain my composure and not act like a total fangirl, I felt my eyes welling up. I looked over at her and she simply said, “Girl, us Jersey girls don’t cry.”

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Yes, us Jersey girls do cry. Especially when they’re standing right next to greatness.