Dear Chester Bennington,

when I drafted this piece, I was crying on a train after listening to One More Light the first time after learning about your death. I don’t know and don’t care if anyone noticed.

The album felt, in retrospect, like a farewell note combined with a „last lecture“ type of thing. Also in retrospect, I could see where the big black dog of depression reared its ugly head in the lyrics.

It’s almost exactly ten years that Linkin Park and your lyrics became a part of my life, when I saw Transformers and was totally captivated by What I’ve Done. I bought Minutes to Midnight, listened closely, then decided Linkin Park was my new favorite band, because that album resonated with me in a way that my old faves hadn’t managed in a while.

At the time, I had a few things going on.

One were ten year old regrets – there were dead people. One whom I wished I had asked questions, much like, ironically, people will now wish they asked you the right questions. Also, I’d lost all my remaining grandparents without standing up to my Nazi grandmother, without asking what my grandfathers had seen and done in WWII. (I will likely never get rid of these issues.)

Second, I’d just decided that I would sacrifice a considerable part of my income for my dream, some might say pipe dream, of working on a writing career that is, at the moment, still not what most people would consider a career. (But: I’ve had people find words like asexuality, aromanticism, genderqueerness. I’d like to think I’ve made a few lives better or richer, so, there. That’s all I can ask.)

Third, I was coming to the sneaking suspicion that the heterosexual norm for a woman my age – marriage, two point five children and a white picket fence – were neither what I wanted from life nor was it something that I would actively be able to stomach, on account of me probably not being heterosexual.

All these insecurities, regrets, vulnerabilies and also the anger (how dare people tell me I’m less because I don’t conform) seemed poured into Minutes to Midnight and into any other Linkin Park album I’ve listened to since then.

I adored the beats and the lyrics. Songs about being betrayed by someone close to you or marginalized by society at large. The strength in admitting to being hurt, vulnerable, angry and the strength of continuing despite these things.

In all this, these songs never seemed to have the context of romantic-sexual relationships – looking back on your history, I see why. It’s also what allows me to adore these songs to tiny little pieces. I do not have to reimagine myself into a heteronormative context to feel them.

Whether it was intentional or not, your songs are a respite from the heterosexuality present in a lot of other music, where, depending on my mood, it is sometimes very jarring to realize that someone created art that was never meant for me.

So. Thanks for creating an oasis.

Thanks for creating theme songs for many of my stories and characters. I believe my writing would have been different without your music.

I hope you’re in a place now where the weight on your shoulders is gone and where the demons didn’t follow.