Gospel star Bebe Winans was stunned to learn of his friend Whitney Houston's death as he was convinced she was "making it through the storm" of her past drug problems.
The I Will Always Love You star, who had a history of substance abuse, was found unconscious and underwater in a bathtub in her Los Angeles hotel room last Saturday (11Feb12).
An autopsy performed on Sunday (12Feb12) proved inconclusive and the cause of death has been deferred pending the results of toxicology tests, although reports suggest alcohol and prescription pills could have played a part in the tragedy.
A week on, Winans is still struggling to come to terms with the singing superstar's sudden death, because Houston was feeling so positive about life.
He tells CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, "I think the shock is great because we walked through, I think a darker valley five, 10 years ago. And so, at this point in time... it was, 'Oh, we're making it through the storm', you know?...
"I lost my brother at the age of 48... Whitney was there at the funeral and everything else. And one of the therapists told me... 'It's just hard for us to wrap our minds and accept lower numbers.'
"We can accept when loved ones die at 75 and 80. But when it's 48, when it's 13, it's just hard to wrap our minds around it because we believe that we're going to grow old together, and we believe with this beautiful lady (Houston) that we would grow old together.
"The reality is now, I have to let go, you know? That reality, she'll live in our hearts... and the fond memories get us through this difficult time. But I have to let go of what we thought we would do."
Winans also reveals that Houston found it hard to accept her stardom, adding: "She tried to run away from it. It's wild to one day wake up and the whole world is chasing you.
"She had just played me I Will Always Love You in the hotel room and I said, 'Whitney, that's going to be incredible, it's going to be huge'. She looked at me and said, 'Oh, I knew it'. I said, 'Why are you sighing? Why are you acting like that?' She said, 'BeBe, because the same people who are applauding me with this, are going to be the same people who are going to throw darts at me'."