Friday, July 21, 2017

The Loss of Another Childhood Idol; Eulogizing Chester Bennington

Photo Credit: Chiragddude at: en.wikipedia

As a teenager you don't recognize and certainly can't comprehend the emotional connection you're forming when you turn on the television or listen to your radio. At that moment, you're just escaping, or celebrating, or blowing off some steam. You have a fight with your parents, and you have to release that frustration. You break up with your girlfriend, and you have to be angry, because if you don't get angry, you know you're going to get sad and tears will follow.

So you run to your room and slam your door, or get in your car, find a straightaway and stomp the pedal to the floor. Then once you've escaped, you crank up some music that you know will get you to that place.

As you let that music touch your soul at that young immature age, you don't recognize the long term impact it's going to have on your life. You turn on your TV and all you see are a bunch of bad ass daredevils driving souped up imports, defying laws and running from the police. It never occurs to you that you're forming a personal connection; not just with the characters in that movie, but with the actors themselves.

At that point in your life, you never even contemplate the possibility, or the inevitable probability that one day some of these people you idolize will have their lives cut short. Worse than that, you can't even comprehend the thought that this end might be the result of their own depression getting the best of them.

When I learned of the passing of Linkin Park's Chester Bennington, admittedly, it hit me hard. Much like the way I felt when Paul Walker, from the Fast And The Furious movies died a few years ago, like a punch to the gut, it was a brutal emotional flashback to my childhood.

I hadn't listened to Linkin Park in years, until recently when I discovered their new single with Kiiara, “Heavy”, a few weeks ago. I didn't realize how many moments in my life I in some way connected to this band's music. For old time's sake, I turned on some of their older tracks as I drove around and the memories began flooding back to me. Stupid fights with my parents and siblings. My first breakup with a girlfriend. The day I bought my first car and eventually upgraded my stereo so I could rebelliously blare music with my windows down as I sped down the highway. The first time a girl cheated on me. I even listened to them on my way to class my first day of college. In fact, the first “secular” rock album I ever purchased was Hybrid Theory, when I was a sophomore in highschool.

So what's the takeaway from the loss of Chester Bennington, Paul Walker, Robin Williams, and too many others? I'm not going to give you any of the generic lines people use when they don't know what else to say in response to an unexpected passing of a friend or family member. I'm not going to tell you “they're in a better place now”, or “at least they aren't hurting anymore”, because those statements are bullshit.

As someone who has suffered with depression for years and has also lost friends to suicide, I'm telling you to look out for the people you care about. If you think they might be suffering with some personal demons, don't avoid them or ignore their silent cries for help, just because they aren't fun anymore. Call them, or just show up at their door and force them to step outside of their comfort zone with you. Because I can tell you, when you get past that rough spot, those are the friends you remember – those are the people who are responsible for you continuing to get out of bed every day and put one foot in front of the other.

Always remember that death can be sudden and unexpected. You never know when you see that person, if it just might be the last time. So don't risk having to look back and ask yourself if there is something you could have done to prevent them making that choice, because I think the only thing worse than losing someone you care about, is knowing that you had the opportunity to say something and didn't do it.

So rest in peace, Chester. And thank you for the memories.

If they say
Who cares if one more light goes out?
In a sky of a million stars
It flickers, flickers
Who cares when someone's time runs out?
If a moment is all we are
We're quicker, quicker
Who cares if one more light goes out?
Well I do
--Linkin Park; One More Light

1 comment:

  1. This one hurt and it brought with it a lot of "I get how...". I survived some of my past traumas off their music and of course others. So, bam, right in the feels. And it's important to dig deep when life is exhausting and hectic to think on others and if they've dropped off and aren't fun. They're isolating and that can be a first sign of the downward spiral.
    I can't fathom this choice he made especially after Cornell. I'm hoping this is somehow shown to be foul play and that he didn't lose his battle this way. Desperate hopes.