it was two years ago - in 2009 - when i saw my first 'megan video.' my coworker, lindsey, & i were on our lunch break, & we decided to peruse youtube for something interesting to watch. i'll admit it - it was done half-jokingly when we clicked on the video under an account called 'meganheartsmakeup.' i never would have guessed that this particular video viewing would launch me into a new hobby: makeup.
it all sounds very shallow, but really, it isn't. megan has taught me a lot of things that aren't even remotely beauty related. she has spread a positive message about the dangers of bullying, the prevention of suicide, & has uploaded seemingly countless videos about how to deal with the pressures of everyday life. each of these messages has inspired me, encouraged me, & improved me in many different ways.
and, it's true: megan is almost ten years younger than me.
as megan's youtube channel continued to grow, she introduced her viewers to a friend of hers, ben breedlove, who started an advice channel with megan's then-boyfriend & some of their other friends (ouradvice4you). the channel featured dating advice for teens & the like, which i thought was creative & interesting. though ouradvice4you gained popularity, ben also created his own channel, breedlovetv, which had a news-broadcaster feel, underscored by ben's charm & sense of humor.
my sister & i were watching this very channel one summer night in 2011, commenting on how cute & funny this individual was, when we watched an 'about me' video. in this video we learned that ben had a heart condition - hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. he spoke of how it was a serious condition, but that he could still take part in activities that he enjoyed, like wakeboarding. he also mentioned that he may have to have surgeries in the future, but that while serious, the condition did not really hinder him.
sadly, ben died this year on christmas day.
but not before he had a chance to share his story with thousands of viewers around the world. about two weeks after ben had an episode at school the first week of december, during which he stopped breathing for three minutes, he recorded two videos. in these videos, he tells his story. it is haunting, sad, & extremely emotional, but i think it is something everyone should watch.
ben's touching, genuine message will leave you in tears, but hopefully the good kind - the hopeful kind. ben's message communicates peace & acceptance beyond his years, which i hope comforts those who were close with him. ben has inspired me through this outpouring of faith & emotion -
'do you believe in angels or god? i do.'
i am moved by his message, to live my life the way i always say i want to, but never do. these videos summon countless other emotions, but i feel it would take entirely too long to really explain all of them, & i truly believe anyone who watches the videos will experience similar feelings.
after watching these videos - after locking my office door because i was crying - i realized it felt as if i had lost a friend. it's true - i've never met ben, i've never met megan - but i feel that they have changed my life for the better. as i drove back to work from my lunch break, i put on the song 'sea of love,' by cat power, & just let myself cry over how unfair it felt that such a young man had to die.
isn't it amazing when people we have never before met can impact us in enormous ways?
unfortunately, i'll never get to meet ben on this earth. but i'll never forget that afternoon drive back to work, when i felt the sun on my face, missing someone i had never even met.
rest in peace, ben. thank you for sharing your message with the world.
my hearts goes out to the breedlove family,
to all of their family & friends,
& to anyone whose life was touched by his videos.
megan, thank you for changing my life for the better.
and thank you for 'introducing' me to ben.