It's strange how you can mourn for someone you have never met, someone who does not even know that you exist. But then there's something called solidarity. Solidarity in knowing that your music was something that brought a whole community of people together. Solidarity in knowing that your voice and music will be engraved in our hearts for as long as we live. And solidarity in knowing that every broken heart will make sure that your memory outlives the many lives you saved.
Linkin Park found its way into my playlist through a friend who introduced me to this prodigious band while I was in grade 8. At the time being, when anxiety and depression had taken over my life, something that made me feel like an outcast to the world, that's when your pain and anger crawled into my life and I suddenly felt like I was not the only misfit around in a world obsessed with telling us how to live. Suddenly my struggles and my scars weren't so ugly anymore.
Hybrid Theory was the first ever album that I purchased. It was an album that taught me to just scream and let it all go. And by scream, I mean literally scream my lungs out. For someone who lets her anxious mind override her voice, who builds huge walls with paranoia, cutting herself from the world in order to feel secure, "In the End" become a beacon of light. That song taught me to fight for things that truly matter, to let go of every cell that was full of pain and anger and to let every cell of my body break down my self-built walls. But something that stayed with me, until today, is that fact that you made me feel like my pain was valid and the battle that I was facing was real, that I wasn't alone after all. That there was an army of Linkin Park fans fighting together, refusing to give up.
Talking about how "Numb" became my go-to track as I struggled to get through high school, how Linkin Park became the first band t-shirt that I bought (which by the way, I still have) and how I used to sneak my Walkman to listen to Linkin Park to survive another day and how I finally found my outlet of anger and pain—I could go on and on, but there's just one thing that really matters and that's how you weren't just a part of my childhood, but you were one of the reasons I made it through adulthood.
And then... you gave up.
And I asked myself, "how?" and "why?"
You taught us that even that most gruesome situations could get us through the smoggy darkness. You taught us to turn our demons into wings, to rise above, even as you struggled to stand. I felt everything become numb. All those songs, all those words, were they just building up to this?
I'm sorry. I'm sorry for never seeing a hurting man behind all those lyrics. I'm sorry that we were unable to save you.
But then, perhaps we never could. For what could have pushed you from not giving up? And that's the heartbreaking truth behind it all.
At the end, all I can do is write and hope that you're having a blast up there with your best friend making some good music. All I can do is celebrate your life and thank you immensely.
Thank you for being there, even when you weren't. Thank you for forcing me to value everything and every breath. Thank you for screaming and making my ears bleed. Thank you for making me feel less lonely. Thank you for walking with me. Thank you for simply existing.
"Remember all the sadness and let it go." We will definitely try, Chester. We will.
If they say
Who cares if one more light goes?
In a sky of a million stars.
Who cares when someone's time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well, I do.
Rest in Peace, Chester Bennington. We miss you.