For the last few weeks I’ve been stuck in a loop. I’ve been deeply affected by what happened to someone I’ve never met.
On Thursday 20th July, Chester Bennington reached the point of no return and hung himself in his home. Why this stopped me in my tracks is becoming less of a mystery.
I stopped listening to Linkin Park years ago, when I got over my angry phase. The last I knew of them was when Minutes To Midnight came out 10 years ago.
When I read about Chester, I was stunned. My usually unfeeling heart sank and I felt the urgent need to get some songs on my iPod to listen to in the car. That weekend I shed all the tears I had while listening to My December, one song of Linkin Park’s that has stuck with me all these years.
I started asking why, what it was that brought Chester to this place he couldn’t get out of. Those are questions that always appear in the aftermath of suicide, right?
Did he feel there was no other option? That it was inevitable? That the only way to end his pain was to leave this world?
A month later, I plucked up the courage to listen to the missing pieces of the story. I took in A Thousand Suns on repeat for days. It’s a haunting experience to hear this album for the first time when you know that voice will never sing again.
It’s also haunting to know that there was a hint of hope in there.
“Do you feel cold and lost in desperation? You build up hope but failure’s all you’ve known. Remember all the sadness and frustration, and let it go…”
Was he writing to himself? Maybe he was writing to me.
When it comes to One More Light, I feel as though this was Chester’s goodbye. Each song conveys some element of closure, the title track saying the most, and it is one that I’ve taught myself to play on the guitar that sits alone gathering dust.
“Who cares if one more light goes out in a sky of a million stars? Who cares when someone’s time runs out when a moment is all we are? Who cares if one more light goes out? Well, I do…”
After listening to these two albums, I had to go back to Minutes To Midnight because I only had half of the tracks. And it seems that those missing pieces fit together perfectly with One More Light and A Thousand Suns. Almost as though I was meant to discover it at this exact time. One thing I realised is, Chester used his gift – the most phenomenal male voice in this world left his mark and will always be remembered for that.
“I dreamed I was missing, you were so scared…”
In between all the questions and being annoyed at myself for wasting what I have, I’ve been dreaming about Chester. I dreamed I was telling him how much his music has meant to me and that he didn’t need to do what he did. He just smiled at me, touched my arm, and disappeared. He seemed happy and carefree, but I knew that he could feel what I was feeling.
“When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done. Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed.”
Chester, you have done what you set out to do – left behind so many reasons to be missed.
Don’t resent me, and when you’re feeling empty, keep me in your memory and leave out all the rest.
Chester may have felt his life was over. He may have believed that nothing could take away his pain other than death. But there was something… I just don’t know if he ever knew…
“He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds” – Psalm 147v3
I’ve had my dark times, those moments where I couldn’t cope, crying and screaming for the pain to end because I just couldn’t bear feeling everything anymore. It’s the creative types who suffer the most with anxiety and depression, as has become more evident in recent years.
“Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” – Matthew 11v28
But there’s One who caught me when I fell, held me up when I couldn’t stand, loved me when I couldn’t love myself. His name is Jesus and He’s the reason I’m alive today.