With Whitney Houston‘s funeral set for tomorrow (Feb.18), her on-off love interest Ray J finally spoke out about this great loss via a statement to The Associated Press (per Ace Showbiz) about the ‘I Will Always Love You’ singer’s death.

Ray J, who achieved his own measure of fame as a singer and as Kim Kardashian’s sex tape partner, said, “Over the past few days, I’ve tried to process the emptiness that I am experiencing. What my heart feels cannot be expressed in words. The world lost an icon, but I lost my close friend.” How heartbreaking.

Additionally, Ray J referred to Houston, who was 48 at the time of her death last Saturday, Feb. 11, by her familial nickname of “Nippy.” He said, “Nippy I miss you so much! You were so happy and full of love. Your smile will live in my heart forever.”

Ray J, who had been surprisingly quiet in the wake of Houston’s death, presumably to deal with the grief, will be in attendance at the services in Newark, N.J. tomorrow. The funeral will also be streamed online in the wake of a public memorial so that fans can participate and share in the celebration of the singer’s life, as authorities are discouraging fans from showing up since no one without an invitation will be permitted entry to the ceremony.

Ray J will be accompanied tomorrow by his sister Brandy. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to Houston’s family and friends like Ray J.