I have been quietly grieving the passing of Chester Bennington for a little while now since I received the news while I was evacuated. It has been really difficult for me, seeing as how Linkin Park was and has been one of my favourite bands since I was 12 years old.
And I cry. I cry a lot. My grieving ritual has been interrupted constantly by work and my other responsibilities, and I have had a difficult time letting go. I’ve been listening to Linkin Park for over half of my life… I felt very close to Chester Bennington, and it’s because of his words – his art – that I was able to get through a lot of difficult times. He was a best friend that I never met, a voice that was a constant comfort and a push to do better, to be better… to know that I am more than the sum of my parts and I am not alone in my depression and in my pain. To know that I will never hear that voice again outside of my worn-out CDs and old YouTube clips, is devastating to me. I remember sitting on my cot in the evacuation centre, reading the article on Metal Injection announcing his passing and just feeling panic. Sheer, unadulterated panic and a pain behind my breastbone that has been festering there ever since.
I listen to Octane on SiriusXM on my commute to work with my dad most mornings. They are pretty good at flogging the same few songs over and over again and occasionally they will throw in something good. This is how I discovered Highly Suspect, among others. Yesterday, they decided to play some Linkin Park, I believe it was “In the End.” My dad makes this face and says to me:
“What a waste.”
Three simple words, an expression I’ve heard a million times, but for some reason… him saying this about Chester really set me off.
It’s hard enough dealing with the reprobates and pieces of shit that call him a coward. Don’t even get me started on those people. My brain has a hard time wrapping around the concept of the word “waste” and “Chester Bennington” in the same utterance, the same reference. It makes me angry. To me, when you call something a waste, it means that it’s a useless expenditure. It’s rejected, it’s worthless. It’s garbage. Chester was no such thing. And really… how dare you? How dare you call such a beautiful human being a waste?
It is unfortunate that he chose to end his life prematurely. It’s unfortunate that he felt so alone, that he couldn’t reach out for help, that his pain – whatever that was – was too great that he saw no other way to get relief from it. But was his life a waste because of this? Absolutely not. Even though he was only here for a short time, he touched millions and millions of lives while he was here. He, along with his band mates, put out music that influenced and inspired multiple generations of people and impacted their lives. He had children, he had a family. I don’t think his life was a waste to them, especially.
I mourn his loss because it is a massive loss. I am grateful that I was alive at the same time that he was, that we walked the same Earth. Just like I am grateful that I got to live during the lifetimes of and experience the talents of David Bowie, Chris Cornell, Amy Winehouse, Peter Steele, among others. They impacted my life, and I am grateful for that.
What if he hadn’t been famous? I probably never would have known him, but that doesn’t mean his loss isn’t anymore devastating. I still would feel that loss, feel pain for his family, and I never would say “what a waste.” Life, no matter how short, is never a waste. We impact each other, every minute of every day, whether it is positive or negative, whether we realize it or not. The smallest interaction can make the biggest difference and it’s not a waste. Get the fuck out of here with that nonsense.