I wanted to begin this letter by quoting some lines from one of the songs by Linkin Park, but I can’t seem to find the strength to do it. I could also write this letter in a way that I subtly include the titles of Linkin Park’s songs to make them part of the sentence as a sort of dedication to you, but then again, I can’t seem to make myself do it. It’s just not easy, or perhaps, I fear I will find you in those songs.
I remember when I was in school and my friend came up to me to listen to this really cool song titled ‘In the End’. Oh yeah, the scream, the rap, the song had the angst or that rebellious rage that I was feeling at that age, or was it just puberty messing with my emotions? But years later I realised teenage angst is a real thing and I was no exception that I found it to be a cool song, because let’s be honest here, that age around puberty is quite a crucial stage. It’s not just that you are biologically becoming an adult as your body is changing; it’s also the stage when, intentionally and unintentionally, you start to notice the world around you. It overwhelms you and, complemented by bodily changes, your brain cannot make sense of it so quickly.
And to this date, I haven’t yet found any other way to cope with that teenage angst besides music. Linkin Park was the way to cope with teenage angst back in my day, and I would be lying to myself if I say even a single one of classmates didn’t like Linkin Park.
But here’s an interesting fact, at that point in life when we were all trying to find ourselves, your voice gave us the strength to not fall. That even if we did fall, we have to get back up and keep moving. I am a 24 year-old who is still trying to find himself through the books I read, the music I listen, the people I meet, but I still haven’t. You inspired a whole generation with your voice, and the number of that goes in millions; billions if I were to quote the number of people whose nothingness you understood and stopped them from taking that step towards the breaking point. The voice of Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda were the voices and thoughts of teenagers from around the world, and even some adults who understood the songs on a deeper level.
Majority of the teenagers who listened to Linkin Park perhaps did not fully understand the lyrics you and Mike wrote; I accept that I didn’t. Now that that you’re gone, the whole generation who slowly drifted away from the band is now back, and the songs just seem a lot darker than none of us ever imagined. Because at that point in life, we were finding ourselves in them; now we are finding you.
Now that you’re gone, we’re trying to find reasons for it. The reason you decided to hang yourself, the moment that you broke, and we are all lost in the randomness because we can’t. We can’t, Chester, we can’t find you anymore, and that hurts.
We are calling for you now, loudly, as far as our voices can reach. You screamed so loud your voice reached the whole world, and now that the world is screaming and calling out to you, you can’t even hear it. Are we late, Chester?
And you know what will haunt me the most? No, it is not what you meant to me or to the whole world at that point of time we needed a voice – and perhaps I am jumping way ahead and trying to make things difficult for me – but you did it on Chris Cornell’s birthday. Even if I somehow convince myself that it was a mere coincidence, I will never be able to think about one of you and not think about the other.
You, Chris Cornell, and James Hetfield are three musicians who have bolstered me through times when I had no one and my loudest scream was lost in a void. I will never be able to thank either of you enough or to even put into words how exactly you all did it. Even if I tried, it’ll turn into nothing but redundant prose.
As a fan, I don’t think any one of us could have done anything to reach out to you and help in any way. And now that you’re gone, a whole generation seems to be lost, temporarily, trying to find the person who helped them find the place where they belong, a place where they healed, a place where they felt that what they thought was never real (these are the lyrics to Somewhere I Belong, you see how dark they seem to us now?). You opened us up to emotions no one ever could. And we all thank you for it.
It’ll take me some time to acknowledge your death and move on, but remember that you have left a legacy, a legacy that you, Mike, Brad, Joseph, David, and Rob created together, and the whole world owes you for it.
Wherever you are, I hope you are resting in peace… because we are not.