I'll be honest, there are only two things I fear as I think about growing older...ALS and Alzheimer's Disease. I can't imagine being trapped in a body that won't respond despite being fully aware or losing the ability to recognize my wife, family, and friends. Ben Utecht is now living the first stages of what I fear.
I'm guessing many of you heard about his story this summer in an article by Chip Scoggins:
Ben Utecht pulled out his iPad and wrote a letter to his wife and three young daughters while cruising on a plane at 30,000 feet. He lowered the brim of his baseball hat to hide the tears streaming down his cheeks.
At the urging of his friend and music producer, Utecht wrote that letter to his girls expressing his love in case he reaches a point someday when he can’t remember them. The damage inflicted on his brain as a former NFL player has caused memory loss and forced Utecht to consider frightening thoughts, such as the notion that he might eventually forget his family.
ESPN's Rick Reilly did a piece with Ben that aired recently (last night I think) and I caught it online today. Despite the fact that I think a lot of folks already know the story, I wanted to share the video too (sorry for the autoplay, ESPN doesn't let you turn that off when you embed). I certainly hope Ben's family never has to open that letter and that the memories he's already lost are the summation, not the start, of this struggle for him.