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Friday, 20 July 2018

One More Light

Today marks a year since Chester Bennington's death.

In that time, I've seen suicide awareness programs come and go. I've seen the news cycles. I've had my fair share of dark nights, and tried to help others through their own.

Two things still strike a chord in me, to this day - the two things that will make me stop and stand still and actually think about the man and his life - are, fittingly enough, songs.

The first is Over Again, recorded by Mike Shinoda, as part of his album Post Traumatic. It just speaks the truth about being himself, being in the position he was in following the death of one of his best friends and closest collaborators. It's so absolutely real, so gut-churningly honest that it sometimes makes difficult listening.

I listen to it anyway.

The other song is, rather predictably, One More Light.

Whenever I hear the song I hear Chester sing about what happened to Chester, and what happened to the people that love Chester.

It's this frisson of associations that really digs its hooks into my brain.

It's about consequences. Not just the consequences of that decision to end one's own life, but the consequences of everything that led to the person making that choice. It's the bottom of the mountain that so many people simply can't carry any more.

As I said in the blog I wrote after his passing, we have to do more. We have to tackle the mountain - and not just pull people out from under the bottom. We have to stop the mountain forming - we have to take it apart from the top, and put structures in place to excavate from the middle.

It sneaks up on you - just like Mike Shinoda says in Over Again. It takes you by surprise. Not when you expect it to, but at any time. Not even just people that we've lost to suicide; I think about friends, my dad, my grandfather. I walk past an advertisement that reminds me of how my grandfather looked when he was my age - and if you want a mental image, think of Gregory Peck. I hear three chords in sequence from The Living Years or a Celine Dion song or Peter Gabriel or Tina Turner and I can SEE my dad wiggle his finger left and right in time to the rhythm.

I feel the warmth of a road underfoot, and I think briefly of the lyrics of I Am The Highway, and I miss Chris Cornell; I catch a turn of phrase and I remember Chester Bennington's voice, and I miss him, too.

I know, I didn't know them personally - but they both wrote and sang songs that made me feel like they knew me. Like they looked inside me and saw things, and these songs speak to those parts of me that I can barely stand to look at, let alone expose.

I don't know where I am going with this. Just that it's been a hell of a year, and the death of this talented, driven man has left scars in places that I didn't think I could get cut.

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