Thursday, December 29, 2011

What bravery looks like...

This is the face of 18-year-old Ben Breedlove of Austin, Texas.

Breedlove suffered from a dangerous heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which one part of the heart is thicker than the other parts, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood.

On December 18, Breedlove posted two videos to YouTube in which he told his story.

He talked about his heart condition not allowing him to play sports like his friends.

He discussed cheating death three times, the first time when he was four years old and the last time on December 6, when he collapsed while at school and awoke to EMS workers giving him CPR.

In his videos, he talked (using handwritten index cards) about visions he saw the first and third times he cheated death.

He talked about not being afraid to die.

And on Christmas Day, he suffered a heart attack and died in the hospital.

Watching Ben's videos, I am overwhelmed by his bravery. I hope his parents are proud of the child they raised, because he clearly was a special person who never took one minute of his life for granted.

"It was obvious to all of us that knew him that he knew what he was doing when he made that video," close family-friend Pam Kohler said. "There are times that [the family is] overwhelmed by the pain and the loss of Ben, but then it's replaced with knowing that he was at peace with what was going to happen."

If heaven and angels exist, undoubtedly Ben Breedlove is among them. I'd encourage you to watch his story (have tissues handy) and then share it with those you love.

Encourage them to live their lives as Ben did, with no fear, embracing the joy and wonder of every day.

RIP, Ben. You've given the world something to think about and left an incredible example behind, one to which we should all aspire.

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