A Story of Faith
Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me.
The Carriage held but just ourselves
By Mary Ann Roser
Austin teenager Ben Breedlove died on Christmas but not before leaving his loved ones a cherished gift that quickly became an Internet sensation.
Breedlove, who was 18 when he succumbed to a lifelong heart condition, loved making funny videos and had his own channel on YouTube in which he gave girls advice about boys. True to form, his final message is a video .
His loved ones found it hours after he had an apparent cardiac arrest at home. In it, Breedlove talks about cheating death three times and describes a vision that he had when his heart stopped earlier this month and his desire to stay in that peaceful place.
Watching the two-part video Breedlove made days before he died, “I can’t tell you the kind of joy” it brought, said his mother, Deanne Breedlove. “It was a gift to us, and for him to be so confident and unafraid of death and to share it with other people was so touching.”
Breedlove is shown holding up written note cards rather than speaking about his close calls with death. The video was featured Tuesday on a variety of websites, including the Huffington Post, and on Facebook and Twitter. Many wrote they were tearful and inspired.
“I am going to achieve my dreams for you, Ben. I will,” one commenter wrote.
“And I’m not going to fear anything or let fear get in the way of anything now.”
A follower on his YouTube channel, “OurAdvice4You,” thanked him for his help: “Ben, I never personally met you but I watched your videos and … remember … thinking, ‘Whoever ends up with him will be the luckiest girl on Earth.'”
In his last video, Breedlove recounts the vision he had previously described to his family and friends when he “cheated death the third time,” on Dec. 6. He had a cardiac arrest at Westlake High School, where he was a senior.
While he was being revived, he saw himself with his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi, and the two were wearing suits.
“The first thing I thought was, Damn, we look good!'” he recounted. “I then looked at myself in the mirror. I was proud of myself, of my entire life, of everything I have done. It was the best feeling. I didn’t want to leave that place.”
The rap artist wrote on his blog Monday that he was in tears after seeing the video.
Best friend Grant Hamill said he didn’t know of the video until after his friend had died. Breedlove had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle that makes it work harder.
“It was rough seeing him and what he was thinking about,” Hamill said. “He hated the hospital and being constrained. We didn’t talk about it. He wanted me to be just his friend.”
Breedlove enjoyed wakeboarding, playing guitar and drumming. He hunted with an adult family friend, Mark Kohler, who called him funny, smart and “an old soul.”
He used YouTube to influence his peers, said Kohler’s wife, Pam. “Obviously, he knew what he was doing when he left this message,” she said.
Breedlove’s mother said she was grateful for the goodness it had inspired. “Ben himself was full of joy,” she said, “and to be his parent was a huge blessing.”
He also is survived by his father, Shawn; a sister, Ally; and a brother, Jake.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”