Joe, Rob, Brad, Dave, Mike, and Chester,
I’ve been meaning to write you for a while now, and especially since One More Light came out. I wish the circumstances for finally writing were different, but I think it’s important regardless.
I knew a few of your songs as a kid — In The End, New Divide, Numb — songs that were on the radio or in movies. When I was a kid, I never really listened to anyone or anything in particular, and to this day I still don’t know the title or artist for most of the songs I would listen to.
Middle school was an… interesting time for me. I didn’t feel I had any close or consistent friends, I felt alone, I felt isolated, and I didn’t really know what to do about any of the negative feelings growing inside me. I was afraid, and I didn’t think anyone would understand or take me seriously. Toward the end of middle school, my boyfriend at the time showed me Waiting For The End, and I fell in love with the song. It resonated with me in the way I needed, and as I listened to more of your music I fell in love with pretty much every song you had released. I even used to take lyrics from different songs and mix them together to create something from everything.
I remember noticing at one point about how Chester seemed like something was bothering him. But I was just a teenager, I didn’t think there was anything I could do. Or maybe I was just overreacting, maybe there was something I didn’t know or something I was misinterpreting. So I mentioned it to the person who was with me at the time, and wasn’t really sure what else there was for me to do.
That has never left me. It has been almost (if not) seven years, and I still remember the concern I had. I realize now that maybe that’s why your music was something I could always connect and relate to, why it made me feel better in some way — because I wasn’t the only one hurting. And when One More Light (the album) came out (which I immediately listened to while finishing up work for the end of my semester), I felt it. All of the hurt, the pain, the constant fighting to be okay, the journey, the progress. When One More Light (the song) played, I stopped working. I listened to it again. I let myself feel it, really feel it.
This afternoon, while playing a video game with a friend, my brother texted me that Chester had killed himself. I immediately closed the game. My friend had no idea what was wrong, and I couldn’t bring myself to say it, so I found an article and sent it to him. A network of us who have been positively impacted by you had slowly begun to contact each other, making sure we were okay and that we found out from friends.
The world lost a special kind of person today, the kind of person who takes pain and tries to turn it into something good, something that can help people. You have, together, made music that makes a difference, and will continue to make a difference.
To Chester: I can’t know what it’s like beyond this life, so I can’t know if you will ever know the contents of this letter. Regardless, I want to thank you for your words, your music, your story, and your passion. You helped so many people and you fought for so long. You will not be forgotten.
To Joe, Rob, Brad, Dave, and Mike: I have no way of knowing if any of you will ever read this. But if you do, I want to ask you to remember two things. The first is that it’s not your fault. Because that’s probably one of the hardest things to remember right now. The second is that you’re not alone. Your families are with you. Your fans are with you. Everyone your music has ever touched is with you. I am with you. We may not all physically be there with you, but we are here for you and ready to help however we can. If there’s anything I can do, or anything anyone else can do, we’re here. Just like you’ve been here for us.
Our hearts are with you. Always.
For anyone who may need it, now or in the future:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (USA): 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741-741