Dear Chester,

I'm very sorry that you felt that this was how things had to go. I'm sorry that the pain you felt inside was too great for you to live with anymore, and I'm sorry that you felt like nobody was here who could help you even a little bit. I'm sorry that you left your family, your wife and your band behind suddenly, randomly, too hurt for them to be able to make you happy. In fact, a great many people are sorry; you were loved, admired and appreciated by people all over the world, people who you never actually met but people whose lives you touched remotely through your music.

However, I am going to be a bit different than them and NOT pretend that I understood what was going on. You often spoke out about being hurt as a child and then fighting a drug addiction, two issues that God has blessedly kept far from me, and I have heard that Chris Cornell, who died earlier this year, was your best friend. I do not know what it is like to have your emotions and your memories all bottled inside; so I can only send my sympathies and thoughts for you.

Since I cannot understand, I cannot call you selfish. I cannot judge you for what you did. I cannot tell you that you are weak and a bad person for leaving everyone behind. Because what I do understand is that these words, these emotions, are heard and received by other people too, who may or may not feel the same way that you did, and these feelings would make those people recede, feeling even more unheard and misunderstood. Insulting someone's feelings, someone who already felt alienated and alone, will only make other alienated, alone people feel worse -- and I know that that is not what I want.

Do I believe your choice was the correct one? Of course not. I believe that there is always a better choice, always ANOTHER choice, an alternative that involves waiting for life to improve and for something more positive to come your way. But insulting you, throwing my judgment at you and your family as if it actually means something, is a thing I will avoid.

Instead, to deal with my grief, I want to thank you for the music that you have made. I have grown up with you; Xero was released two years before I was born, and I first listened to you in fourth grade -- 2009 -- as I really began to struggle with my self-image issues. You released "A Thousand Suns" five days before my 11th birthday, and I assumed it was your gift to me as I fell in love with it. To this day, it is my favorite album, and I have gotten into different parts of it at different times (I just recently discovered the beauty in "Iridescent") when I was ready to accept the beauty and the art inside each song.

And I have loved your music through every stage, even your more recent albums, because I appreciate your passion and your heart. As the tribute to you on the Linkin Park website says, it is because you were able to express your feelings, dark as they were, that you called such a large fanbase. You were able to make so many people feel as if they were not alone. That is truly a gift -- I have no doubt that you have saved a lot of lost people from committing suicide as well.

So thank you, Chester. Thank you for bearing your soul to the world to help us through your music, and thank you for everything that you and your band have accomplished. Nothing will be the same without you, but you have lived the ultimate life -- you have touched many lives and left behind a legacy that cannot ever be forgiven. But we still all miss you so much and wish with all of our hearts that you did not have to go.

If anybody ever is feeling as if life is not worth living, here are some available resources:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

Crisis Text Line (free, nationwide, 24/7 text message service) - United States: text HELLO to 741741 or message on Facebook.

For support outside the US, find resources here.

With love,

A fan forever