My best friend called me today. She never does that. When I answered, she was sniffling. She never does that either. She said “You haven’t heard, have you?” And what she told me turned the world upside down. You were gone. I couldn’t believe it at first. No, that wasn’t right. You were so happy. So in love. So I thought. She said it again, and I screamed so loudly that someone in the Walmart parking lot came over and asked if I was all right. I wasn’t. And I am not now as I write this, either.
This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I was supposed to meet you in September and tell you how much you meant to me. How much I truly love you. I would get one of your famous hugs and get to finally see the sparkle in your eyes for myself. Hear your giggling laugh. To show you my tattoos and tell you my story. It wasn’t supposed to end with me collapsed and screaming on my dining room floor when Mike confirmed my worst nightmare on Twitter.
You see, you are the reason I am even sitting here, with breath and a heartbeat. Your bravery and willingness to perform “Breaking The Habit” back in 2004 set me on a course I never saw coming. Life. I’d always figured I would cut myself to death before I turned 25. You changed that. You changed everything.
I always felt connected to you. Your life was not easy, and neither was mine. Abuse put us both on a path of destruction. You lifted yourself out of the hole. And because of that, so did I. “His strength gives me strength” is what I tell anyone who will listen. And it’s the honest truth. I know, down to my soul, that without you, my story would have ended long ago.
I’m not entirely sure, as of this minute, how it will continue without you. I never imagined I would have to figure out how to be in a world without your presence. As I type this, I’m not sure that I can. I feel lost in the storm without my usual beam of light to guide me back. This time, you are the storm. I know you would not want me or anyone else to follow you down this path. And though I am struggling, I am fighting. Just as you showed me that I, could, indeed, fight. And fight like Hell.
I know how it feels to be where you were. I know deeply. I know that you were a fighter too. People will say otherwise, but I know the truth. I know that sometimes, you win the battles and still lose the war. They tell me there is a 1 in 10 chance that I will lose the war too. I probably should’ve lost it all ready. But here I am. Mourning you. Or whatever lies beyond mourning.
I had the idea for a tattoo not long ago, and I got it. A semicolon, for suicide attempt survival. As the body of a butterfly, for the transformation I went through. The wings of the butterfly are made from your wrist flames. My wings were forged by you. The fire in me was fed by yours. It is surrounded by the line from “Carousel”- “Fly with me under the wings I gave you”. And that is exactly what you did. I never thought these butterfly wings would be angel wings.
It is very easy now to think of the “I never”s. I never got to meet you. Never got to tell you what you did for me. Never got to show you the ink I will bear for the rest of my life in your honor. But I am trying to focus on what of your magnificence I got to have. I got to hear your angelic voice, your demonic scream, and bask in your cathartic energy SIX times. Some people never had that at all. I got to buy seven Linkin Park albums, one Dead by Sunrise album, and one Grey Daze album, to hear every aspect of the voice that was balm to my soul, and sang me lullabies in my darkest hours.
As today has progressed, the outpouring from people around me has been astonishing. I’d say that the outpouring from people for you has also been astonishing, but frankly, I expected it. I wish you could have felt all this love for you. Deep enough to keep you here. I know it isn’t that simple, but I still wish it. If love could have saved you at all, my love alone would have made you immortal. Let alone everyone else all over the globe who shared my love. I know you live on through the music, so maybe in that regard, you are immortal.
I have always seen you as an angel in human form, come to earth for whatever good you could do. I don’t know why you had to go home so soon. That’s something only you know. But I know for sure that you earned those wings.
Every single drop of my love,