As he recorded his final videos in recent weeks, Austin teenager Ben Breedlove smiled warmly and flashed index cards as he shared his hopes and fears about his lifelong battle with a heart condition that ultimately would take his life on Christmas Day.
"I was never allowed to play all the sports that my friends did," the cards say in the two videos (above and below). "It kinda sucks that I missed out on that part of my life. I really just hoped that I could be the same as everyone else."
Breedlove, 18, recalls how since the age of 4 he had "cheated death" several times by being revived after his heart stopped beating.
He says the episodes were scary, but during the last one, his visions were so peaceful that he didn't want to wake up.
He writes that he had a vision of a white room in which he's wearing a white suit and is with his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi.
"I then looked at myself in the mirror," he wrote. "I was proud of MYSELF, of my entire life, everything I have done."
He says the incident was on Dec. 6, after he passed out in a hallway at his high school, where he was a senior.
Messages His LegacyHis mother, Deanne Breedlove, told the Austin American-Statesman that the videos brought joy to a tragic moment.
"It was a gift to us," she said, "And for him to be so confident and unafraid of death and to share it with other people was so touching." Breedlove had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which means the heart has different levels of thickness and can't pump blood evenly.
In addition to the two pre-Christmas videos, Breedlove recorded others on his own YouTube channel discussing, sans index cards, mainstream teenage topics such as how a girl can ask a guy to a dance.
Web wanderers and bloggers say they find Breedlove's attitude inspiring. On Monday, Kid Cudi blogged, "This has really touched my heart in a way I can't describe ... To Ben's family, you raised a real hero, he’s definitely mine."