Thursday, August 3, 2017

Remembering Chester #RIP

Two weeks ago, my friend Chester took his life. 

Most of you know the story. You've read it online, maybe heard it on the news, the world speculating on what led him to make the choice he did and what that decision says about him as a person. Bloggers and fans have been reading the lyrics of his last few albums like tea leaves, looking for the exact moment when he decided he'd had enough of this world, trying to make sense of something that seems to defy logic.

This post isn't to join in that conversation because I already know why he died. I might not have the specific details of what was in his head that morning, but anyone who spends time in the badlands of depression and misery knows why he took his life. Chester had an abundance of love and success, but that level of depression turns everything black. It doesn't matter how brilliant your life is. You can't see anything but darkness, can't feel anything but pain.

Chester told me once that his mind was a dangerous place, a battleground of self-doubt, demons, and bad habits he'd struggled with most of his life. The way he survived was by being present in other people's lives, staying out of his head. 

2017 was a difficult year for him and it's not hard to piece together the path that took him from being okay to being trapped in that battleground, lost to the darkness. Too lost to even ask for help.

I still can't put most of what I'm feeling about his death into words. The emotion's too big for that, so, for now, I'm focusing on the other side of Chester. The side that made him such a cherished friend.

Chester Bennington
1976 - 2017

Chester loved to laugh. That's what I remember the most and what I'll miss the most. He was a funny, crazy, bouncy guy with an unabashed coffee addiction, something we bonded over, siblings in the bean! He had a thousand different voices, a new character for each random moment.

Despite his success, he was an unassuming, generous guy and among all the darkness in his head, harbored an incredible capacity for love. Chester loved his friends like family, adopting their problems, absorbing their pain. 

I'll remember Chester as silly and sweet, troubled yet determined, a man who tried to give hope to others even when he couldn't find enough scraps of the stuff to keep his own head above water. He was always painting pictures of their bright future but had trouble seeing one for himself anywhere other than in the studio. 

I'll miss the random texts that made me smile and chats about life and music. I'll miss the way his face lit up when he talked about his kids, and the tales of his critters. I'll miss the inspiration I used to get from those rare moments spent watching such an impossibly talented artist at work. I'm honored to have known him, and I like to think he's still out there somewhere, dancing through the leaves on the trees, singing with the birds, screaming with the wild cats.

I'll miss you, Cheeto.