In a revealing new memoir, Remembering Whitney (Harper Collins), Cissy, 79, writes candidly about her daughter's severe drug problems and the downward spiral that led to her death by drowning in a hotel bathtub with traces of cocaine still in her system.
"She started partying and she didn't really know how to stop," says Cissy. "I used to wonder what she was doing at night, where she was."
But when she tried to contact her, Whitney often didn't return her call.
"Whitney hid from me," says Cissy. And when she did see her, she was often afraid to confront her daughter. Shocked at her skeletal appearance at the Michael Jackson tribute concert in 2001, she never expressed concern.
"What was the point?" she asks. "I didn't want her to run completely away from me."
She doesn't believe former husband Bobby Brown was the cause.
Cissy also writes for the first time about her daughter's relationship with former assistant Robyn Crawford, who became her creative director.
"I just didn’t want her with my daughter," she says. "I know nothing about a romantic relationship. That's what everybody said but they didn't know either."
She admits, Crawford "cared for her" and reveals for the first time that she was the first one to come tell her Whitney had a drug problem.
Cissy is still tormented by her daughter's sudden death. "I'm angry she died alone, in those conditions," she says. "I'm still mad about that."
Still, she hopes her book will remind people "what a good person she was. I want people to know the truth about her, how she really was."