“My Brother Was Ready for the Peace of Heaven” Says Ally Breedlove
Q: Describe your younger brother Ben.
He is the most joyful person I have ever known. He always had an enormous smile on his face, and he usually spent his time pulling pranks.
Q: What are your favorite memories of Ben?
We are only a year and a half apart in age, so we became best friends when we were little. We complemented each other well, because I would knock sense into his head when he wasn’t thinking, and he would encourage me to be more adventurous in life. I remember the first time Ben persuaded me to do something daring. He was three and I was four, and he convinced me to reach the chocolate syrup bottle in the fridge so we could take turns drinking it while our mom was out of the kitchen.
Q: Ben’s story has already been an inspiration to many around the world. What do you want people to know about your brother and his life after reading When Will the Heaven Begin?
A few times throughout his life, Ben turned to me and said, “Ally, you know I am going to die young.” I always told him to hush, partly because I didn’t want to believe him and partly because I didn’t understand why he was telling me this. In retrospect, I see that Ben had developed an unusual maturity at a very young age. He realized that his time was limited, and he took advantage of every moment—not only to enjoy life himself, but also to invest in the lives of others.
Q: What did you think when Ben first shared his story of seeing the bright light as he was wheeled through the hospital, and his visions after that?
I was only six when Ben first shared his experience of seeing the bright light, and I believed him without question. I remember thinking, I wish I could see an angel! As Ben continued to recount the story throughout his later years, he remained sure about what he saw.
Q: How did Ben’s near-death experiences change your view of life, heaven, and the afterlife?
The hardest truth I have ever had to accept was my brother telling me that he wished he had never woken up. My heart was broken. I wanted so badly for his suffering to end and for him to experience that incomprehensible peace again, but I also didn’t want to let him go. But then I realized that if God had decided to bring Ben back, it must have been for a very important purpose. That’s when it dawned on me that life is a gift, and every single day has been given for a purpose and an opportunity to give something back to the world.
Q: Tell us what HCM is and how it affected Ben’s life.
HCM is a disease that prevents the heart from pumping blood effectively. Symptoms range from light-headedness to sudden death. Ben was never allowed to play sports growing up, and he often experienced an irregular heartbeat that made him feel tired and weak. By the time he was fourteen, he began to experience heart failure, and he had to have a pacemaker/defibrillator implanted to control his heart rhythm.
His condition worsened over time, and he missed nearly half of the school days each year. His cardiologists suggested a heart transplant, but even that was not considered a cure. Despite the challenges Ben faced, he loved his life. He hardly ever complained, and he found something to smile about every day.
Q: Your parents, Deanne and Shawn, allowed Ben the freedom to live as a “regular kid.” What effect did that have on his outlook on life?
I respect my parents so much for allowing Ben to make his own decisions in life, because he needed to experience that freedom. Had my parents been controlling of Ben’s life, he never would have experienced riding a roller coaster, flipping on the wakeboard, parasailing, or any of the other daring activities he attempted. Despite his physical limitations, Ben saw life as an adventure.
Q: This book is a testament to Ben’s charisma and the power of his message—he reached not only his friends and family, but so many others. What do you think draws people to Ben’s story and his videos?
Many people have been fascinated by Ben’s near death experience, but many have also been intrigued by the sense of peace and contentment Ben exudes while he tells of the difficulties he has faced in life. People want to know what has allowed Ben to come to terms with his life and death, and hope that they can find the same peace for their own lives.
Q: How would you personally answer Ben’s question of “Do you believe in angels or God?” Before Ben’s passing and the worldwide response to Ben’s video, would you have responded the same or differently?
I do believe. My answer would have been the same before Ben’s video, but I have gained an entirely new perspective from hearing about Ben’s experience.
Q: Throughout the book you refer to your family’s close relationship with God. What role did God and religion play in the Breedlove home? How did that relationship (with God) influence your relationship with Ben?
My parents always told Ben, Jake, and me of their belief in God. But they encouraged us to make our own, individual decisions, and to draw our own conclusions about the truth. I developed a relationship with God at a young age, and that is the only reason I was able to live free of fear for Ben’s life. And now that Ben has passed away, my belief that in heaven he is more alive than ever keeps me from apathy and despair.
Q: One of the most powerful scenes in the book describes your conversation with Ben about a week before he passed away—you were sitting on the dock of the lake near your home. What was special about that moment with Ben? How did that talk change you?
He told me that he thinks God let him have the vision so he wouldn’t be afraid of dying anymore, and so he would know that heaven is worth it. To have my brother look me in the eyes and tell me that he no longer feared his own death, and that he longed for and was ready for the peace of heaven was a greater gift than I ever could have asked for. God didn’t have to bring Ben back, but he did. He gave me the most meaningful moment I have ever shared with my brother, and invited me to be part of a life-changing story.
Q: Why was it important for you to share Ben’s story with the world? What was the best part about writing the book?
Writing the book proved to be very therapeutic for me—to release all of the emotions I felt about Ben’s life and death. But more than that, I am honored that God gave me the opportunity to chronicle my brother’s life and share his story with the world at the same time.
Congrats to Laura M., Stephanie A., Ashley D., Gisele B., Carol F., and 45 other RIFers. Their entries were selected at random to win a copy of When Will the Heaven Begin? by Ally Breedlove.
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