When I first saw the news that Chester Bennington passed away, I felt like someone had punched me in the gut. I immediately cracked open Google to make sure his Wikipedia page wasn’t updated with the hope that this was another elaborate hoax.
But it wasn’t.
Three days have passed and in these past few days, I find myself thinking about my early teen years. I find myself thinking back on the first time I ever heard Linkin Park on the TV and the way they brought light into my life.
I was about 9 when Meteora was released but I only heard the album when I was 12. My then best friend had finally picked up the CD and I borrowed it and played it on a loop for an entire week. I can’t write down the exact feelings I felt while listening to that record by myself every afternoon after a hard day at school. But, that album gave a voice to the ugly voices that whispered in my head. It made my emotional turmoil tangible and I didn’t feel completely alone as I listened to it.
Linkin Park was my first taste of rock music, it opened the doors to Three Days Grace, Blink 182, Sum 41, Seether, My Chemical Romance, Bullet for My Valentine and Fall Out Boy. Whenever I remember my teenage self, I’ll always remember the girl who used to blast rock music on Windows Media Player while waiting for the latest Naruto episode to load on YouTube.
You could say that Linkin Park helped fill the silence of a lonely girl who couldn’t bring herself to open up to her friends.
The first time I self-harmed, I listened to Shadow of the Day and Bullet for My Valentine on a loop after cutting. I still remember crying as I got ready for my cousin’s birthday party, and how strangely at peace I felt while Chester Bennington whispered in ear. I’m proud to say that I only self-harmed thrice after and stopped because I didn’t want to continue the habit. Looking back at all of these incidents, I can’t really recognise the younger me. I can’t put a name to the Sharanya who felt angry and bitter at the way her life was going. The only thing I could do was seek comfort in music that acted as a balm to my weary soul, the balm that healed the empty places inside me when no person could.
Linkin Park was a lifeline.
Their music spoke to me, whether it was Mike Shinoda on Fort Minor or their collaboration with Jay-Z that eventually opened doors to my love for rap. LP was there for me when people couldn’t be. LP was there for me when people couldn’t be and for that, I’m always grateful. While all of us mourn the voice of a generation, and our hero who slew all those demons for us. We will also remember and cherish the man who couldn’t fight all the demons, who couldn’t defeat the darkness.
We’ll always miss you, Chester – even though the sun set for you.
Thank you. I hope you’re at peace and thank you for always giving us hope.