One week before his passing on Christmas Day, Ben Breedlove uploaded a heartbreaking, courageous, and poignant farewell to YouTube.
“Do you believe in Angels or God?” he asks at the end of video, “This is My Story.” “I do.”
An 18-year-old high school student from Austin, TX, Breedlove suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, making it difficult to pump blood.
Sitting alone in front of a webcam and cracking the occasional smile, Breedlove explains his condition and recounts three previous close encounters with death through a series of hand-written placards—a move that was inspired by by Kieren Miles’ “10 Reasons to Smile.”
“I really just hoped I could be the same as everyone else,” Breedlove offers at one point. “But that is one thing I learned to live with and accept.”
Divided into two parts, the videos have received a total of nearly 1 million views.
It was only fitting that Breedlove shared his story on YouTube. He operated two different advice-oriented YouTube channels, Our Advice4You and BreedloveTV, boasting a total of more than 80,000 subscribers and 4 million total upload views. His various comment sections since have turned into virtual memorial walls.
“Rest in peace Ben,” posted jadedjewel83 earlier this morning. “You shared a beautiful story and inspired alot of people. You are in a better place. My heart and prayers go out to the friends and family.”
“[N]othing but love and good wishes sending to your family and friends,” added OiParker on the channel’s homepage. “[Y]ou made a difference in this world!”
Likewise, rapper Kid Cudi, who was mentioned prominently in the second video—Breedlove dreamed the two were together, dressed in white suits, as he was being revived by paramedics at his school on Dec. 6—responded on his Tumblr, Cud Life.
“I watched the video he left for the world to see, and him seeing me in detail, in his vision really warmed my heart,” wrote Cudi in a message that received 1,692 notes. “We love you Ben. Forever. Thank you for loving me. To Ben’s family, you raised a real hero, he’s [definitely] mine. You have my love.”
YouTubers have also posted dozens of response videos, including this tribute by jojomcrazy.
“When you watch a video like the one Ben made, it will touch your heart even if you don’t know him,” prefaced jojomcrazy. “I know he is loved by all his close friends and I think this song will remind them that he still lives on and he will always be remembered and loved.”