This is not a typical post for Outside My Nine to Five, but it is important.
Thursday afternoon, the world found out that Chester Bennington from Linkin Park passed away from an apparent suicide. I learned about his passing through my friend, and confirmed it through two of my friends in the Linkin Park community.
I was shattered. I couldn’t stop shaking. The fact that this was real and not a hoax broke my heart.
Chester was more than just my favorite member of Linkin Park. He was an amazing singer, first and foremost. Regardless of how many times you saw Linkin Park in concert, his vocal abilities left you ranting and raving about the show for days and weeks afterward.
He had a wicked sense of humor, part wit and sarcasm and part complete goofball. There were many LPTV episodes where his antics would leave me in stitches. Back in the day, my Linkin Park friends and I would collect quotes from interviews and videos and post them on the Linkin Park Message Boards; many of the best ones were from Chester.
What I remember the most about him is his genuine caring nature. The cover photo for this entry (credit to Justin Wysong, by the way) is from my last meet and greet with Linkin Park. That day, my anxiety was at an all-time high for reasons that didn’t include the meet and greet. While I did my best to keep it under control, my anxiety won out and I began trembling right before our picture was taken. My body didn’t feel right after I regained my composure. It was almost as if I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs, and I started coughing every so often. When Chester came along to me, it only took a brief “Hello” to get me coughing again. I covered my mouth just in time, but I was mortified.
“Now you’ve done it…you’ve coughed on him. You’re going to get him sick.” I thought, not realizing what was actually going on with me.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, barely able to meet eyes with him.
“Don’t be sorry,” he replied, bringing his arm out to take me into a hug. I was frozen.
“He really wants to give me a hug? After what I just did?”
“Sorry,” I said again. “I get nervous easy,”
“Don’t be nervous,” he assured me, pulling me into a side hug. In that moment, I relaxed. Things would be okay.
Chester’s personal demons were well-accounted for in numerous interviews. His honesty made fans, including me, feel like they weren’t alone in whatever they were going through. If he could rise above what he faced and be successful and happy, so could we.
We found out Thursday that some demons are too big.
We will never know why. We will never know what could have stopped it. No amount of speculation, interview/lyric/tweet analysis, or theorizing will bring Chester back.
Grief and the Power of Community
I’ve struggled through this past weekend. Chester’s passing compounded the stress I have been feeling for the past month in my personal life. The cycle of grief is incredibly powerful: one minute I can be focused and feeling like myself; the next crying, shaking and feeling nauseous. What I’ve discovered is that I am not alone. My friends in the Linkin Park community are feeling the same way. We lost someone who, from a distance, meant a great deal to us. When you’ve been a Linkin Park fan for as long as many of us have, it’s hard to not feel connected to them. Through their website, chat rooms, message boards, LPTV, social media, and meet and greets, we get to know a part of who they are as people. We have at least 17 years of stories, inside jokes, and adventures to fall back on. Now a part of that is gone.
The Linkin Park community has talked, cried, and celebrated Chester’s life this weekend. As the days and weeks go on, we will continue to stand together and support each other. The future is uncertain, but as long as we have each other, we know we’ll be okay.
One More Light
The penultimate track to Linkin Park’s latest release is “One More Light“. It is a song written from a point of loss. We are all feeling that right now. In many ways, Chester is that “One More Light”.
“Who cares if one more light goes out? Well, I do.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Hotline at (800)273-8255. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.