I wanted to start a blog earlier this summer. I never imagined this would be my first real post, but yet, here it is. The title of this post is a lyric from the song “One More Light.”
I apologize in advance. This is lengthy. This is my Linkin Park story.
Every teenager goes through a phase where no one understands them and they are mad at the world. It is even more difficult when you are from an extremely small town where everyone literally knows everything about everyone. Growing up I had a great life. I had a wonderful, loving, and supporting family. I was a good kid. I had a handful of close friends, but I was never popular by any means. You see, I was the “smart kid.” Nerd. Dork. Geek. Whatever you want to call it. I was also overweight and awkward looking. Needless to say, I was bullied and constantly made fun of from elementary school through high school. Linkin Park, through Chester’s voice, helped me to deal with that pain. It was like everything I felt and wanted to say was right there in those lyrics. I challenge anyone to list an LP song and I will tell you what lyric I relate to and why. This band came into my life 17 years ago and let me know that I’m not alone. Their music gave me the strength to stand up for myself. Even now their songs continue to help me through battling depression and anxiety.
I remember when I first heard them. It was in October of 2000. I was watching MTV, and they were airing “Return of the Rock” videos. Hearing the first few chords of “One Step Closer”, I stopped what I was doing and intently watched this video. Honestly, as a teenage girl, my first impression was “OMG that blonde guy is so hot!” But as I listened to the lyrics, Chester screaming about being “One step closer to the edge” and “about to break” I had never felt more understood in my life.
Months later, in May 2001, I was cleaning my bedroom. I was listening to MTV when I heard the first enchanting chords of “Crawling.” Again, I stopped what I was doing an intently focused on this video and song. I realized immediately it was the same band, and I was hooked. I made my mom take me to On Cue a few days later so I could buy Hybrid Theory. I constantly listened to this album. I had to have surgery on my inner ears in June 2001. I remember listening to Hybrid Theory in its entirety on the way to the hospital and the moments leading up to my surgery. Afterwards, I wasn’t supposed to have headphones on my ears, but I listened to Hybrid Theory on the drive home anyway.
I became a huge Linkin Park fan. I joined their message board and chat room to talk to other like-minded fans. In November 2001 I joined their fan club, The LPU. I remember coming home from school and getting my homework finished by 8:00pm so I could surf the LPMB and LPCR. I made so many friends; Some that I still talk to even to this day. I bought any merch I could get my hands on. I had posters and printed off pictures adorning my bedroom walls. I bought every album, every single, every remix. I bought their DVD “Frat Party at the Pancake Festival” before I even had a DVD player. I may have been a little obsessed.
Looking back through my junior high and high school yearbooks, you see me in LP shirts, you see messages written from my classmates that affectionately say “Linkin Park sucks”. Linkin Park became what everyone associated me with.
My first concert was August 17, 2007 at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. My best friends, Mashawnna and Bobbi, went with me, and my brother also joined us. We were front row in the pit, and they can attest to the fact that I cried and lost my voice during LP’s performance. At that point in time, it was the greatest moment of my life. I’ll never forget Chester and Mike running out on the stage right in front of me. I have the live audio recording from this show, and you can hear me singing along to Crawling. Again, greatest moment of my life.
My next concert was August 11, 2012 at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia. This show was special for two huge reasons. First, my boyfriend Nick was getting to experience it with me. Second, I scored a meet and greet through LPU. Twelve years in the making and I would finally meet my heroes. They were all so nice, especially Chester. I talked to him and Phoenix like they were old pals. I totally fangirled when I got to Mike, though. I was extremely awkward. It was one of those moments that keep you up at night years later. Sorry, Mike. However, this experience was the greatest of my life. I met them, was able to thank them, and I’m forever grateful for that. Now more than ever.
My last Linkin Park concert was May 17, 2015 at Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio. Again, Nick was with me. It was the biggest LP show I had been to, and hearing the crowd sing along with them was mesmerizing. I lost my voice two songs in, and my face was so sunburned that it hurt to smile. 10/10 – Would do it again and again and again.
This summer Nick and I had thought about going to either the Hershey Park show or the Bristow show, but we never really decided. We still had a little bit of time left to decide. Or so we thought.
July 20, 2017 – I remember seeing the news article. At first I thought it was a hoax. Then the crying came. Then the anger. Then the denial. Then the confirmation. Then the crying again. Then the betrayal. Then the pain, hurt, and sadness.
I have so many emotions. I’m sad because the world lost a talented, beautiful soul. I’m sad I lost one of my heroes. I’m angry because he killed himself. I feel betrayed because Chester wrote lyrics that saved so many people and prevented them from leaving this world prematurely. I just don’t understand why he chose to end it. I probably never will. Everyone battles demons, no matter how successful and loved they are. It just breaks my heart that he was suffering on the inside and didn’t get help. My heart breaks for his wife and children, for Mike, Joe, Brad, Rob, and Phoenix; the entire Linkin Park family.
Some of you are probably asking why would I write about this? Why do I care so much? I didn’t know Chester personally, but for 17 years, Chester and Linkin Park have been a central part of my life. Over half of my life I have dedicated to being an LP fan. I used to go to sleep at night and wake in the morning to Chester’s face plastered all over my walls. Yes, I didn’t know him, but that doesn’t make this hurt any less.
I just want to conclude by saying: please get help if you need it. Don’t be embarrassed by mental illness and depression. We’ve all been there. There is help. There is a way. There is someone who loves you and cares about you.
Chester, thank you for being our voice when we couldn’t speak. You meant so much to so many. I hope you find some peace in the afterlife, my brother, my friend. #RIPChester