You hanged yourself today, but the rigor mortis seems to have set in our collective limbs. It is you who died, but we are all numb.
It was the most confusing time of my life when I was first handed audio cassettes of Meteora and Hybrid Theory. I didn’t quite fit in at 17; I sought my place in a new world and didn’t find one. Then, you came on the music player and spat out Somewhere I Belong. That day, I found my first college friend, one who taught me that I owed zero fucks to the world.
Linkin Park was perhaps as big a Western music influence on my life as Michael Jackson had once been. But MJ couldn’t do what you did. Whenever I was hurting, whenever I was caught in the undertow and needed to scream my head off, you screamed for me. The college bully suddenly knew I wouldn’t be ignored; every time I took one step closer to the edge of sanity, you took one with me; and I realized it was okay to have a voice at the back of my head, a face underneath my skin. My quest for an identity, the urge to rebel, to chase my dreams – had all found an indomitable voice. A voice that thundered through the windows while I stayed shut inside the house. I wonder what, or whom, you turned to when the chaos got to you. You repeatedly rescued us with your songs. I’m sorry we couldn’t rescue you.
It’s a little baffling that only in your end do I get to know you so much better. You, Chester Bennington the man, and not the lead singer of Linkin Park the band. Your interviews now pop up on my timeline; your history of battling depression, childhood abuse, and addiction reveals itself. I check out your latest posts on Instagram and find them tainted with your death. Your words, photographs, videos… everything has been stained the color of suicide. Your lyrics have acquired a whole new meaning; your screams are now soaked in pain. Now, every time we listen to one of your songs, we lose you all over again.
There are a few who are calling you names, fans who think it was selfish of you to kill yourself. Not everyone understands despair, Chester. Not everyone is acquainted with the kind of sorrow that plagues the mind and renders every success and joy meaningless. Thousands of people, including I, wanted to be you all these years while you were shedding your own skin with each song. I don’t blame you for leaving, but I wish we could’ve given you at least one reason good enough to not reach for that rope. I hope you finally find yourself somewhere you belong.
All that you leave behind – your songs, your grunts, your gut-wrenching angst – all of it will continue to echo through thousands of lives and lead confused young minds to peace. Knowing that we aren’t alone in our despair is sometimes just enough to hold on. I wish you too could’ve had that solace. I wish you could witness the grief that clouds the world of rock today. And I hope you know that, in the end, it does matter. In the end, you matter.
Rest in peace, my friend.
Still screaming along,
The boy who doesn’t fit in