Reading time 7 min 51 sec
My name is Cédric Emmanuel. I'm French, and I've always lived on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
I spent my childhood surrounded by my father, Christian Joseph, a humble man; my mother, Anne Marie, a very gentle woman; my sister, Marie-Lynda; and my little brother.
We lived in a modest house, as my parents had very little financial means since only my father worked.
Suffering from hypersensitivity since childhood, I was a child who went out very little because of this illness, except to go to school and to the doctor.
At home, my favourite pastime was watching television, mainly cartoons. In the early 80s, I discovered for the first time on TV the American series Dallas, created by a certain David Jacobs, and "Dallas" was to turn my daily life upside down and upset the little universe I'd created for myself.
No program had ever captivated me so much. I was discovering this series on the small screen, which recounted the adventures of a wealthy Texas family, the proud owners of a magnificent ranch called "Southfork".
I was only eight years old at the time, and from the very first broadcast, I became a diligent fan of this series because it simply made me dream, with its beautiful cars and its beautiful ranch, the acting and, above all, the humour of the actors and their plots.
Each episode always ended in suspense and kept me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't wait for the next Saturday to see what would happen to the Ewing family, and naively, I began to dream more and more, imagining myself one day being part of the cast so that, like the actors in the series, I could find myself at Southfork Ranch.
From then on, I had a real passion for the series "Dallas" because it made me forget my modest living conditions on my little island lost in the Indian Ocean. When I got to secondary school, some unexpected news brought me one step closer to my dream.
At the age of 13, I was in the fourth grade, and our English teacher suggested we have a pen pal in the United States. The pen pal she gave me could have been from any other state in the USA, but that was without counting on the little wink of fate. Mine was from Texas.
His name was Aaron, and in his first letter, he told me he lived in the town of Plano, right next to the Southfork Ranch, where the Dallas TV series was filmed. I had to read and reread his letter several times to be sure I wasn't dreaming.
This news filled me with happiness because, thanks to this correspondent, I was going to have a direct link with the ranch of my favourite TV series, which I saw on my TV every Saturday night. It was just magical! Unfortunately, the series came to an end in the early 90s, and Aaron and I lost touch...
Wishing to continue my secondary education in the field of communications, I decided to enrol in the BTS Communication course in 1997.
Having started a week after all the other students, I'll never forget that strange feeling I got when I opened the door to the classroom, that sense of déjà-vu, that is, of already knowing them all, but maybe it was just an impression, I thought.
During our two years of training, we had to carry out study projects in order to present them at the final exam, and it was then that I had the idea of proposing to all the students in my class, with the authorization of our brilliant head of training, that we "play" in DALLAS.
I then set about writing the script for my DALLAS, with the help of a famous professional comedian from our island, to help with the staging. On April 22, 1999, the premiere of our show, DALLAS, took place on the stage of the largest theatre on our island.
The local press and the public were delighted to discover our young students playing the roles of characters from an American TV series, and one of the local TV stations came to record our show for broadcast during the festive season.
Our show brought our two years of study to a close, but in fact, it bound us together forever, for 20 years later, we're still seeing each other, and for good reason. On Friday, October 11, 2002, a tragic event was about to rock my life into horror.
A family tragedy occurred during which I was seriously wounded by several stab wounds to the right lung, right ventricle, pancreas, liver and arm. I bled to death and literally saw myself die before the eyes of my mother, Marie, who crouched at my feet, crying, and those of my sister, Marie Lynda.
She quickly grabbed a cloth and put it on one of the wounds on my arm to try and stop the bleeding. I was then taken to the Bellepierre hospital, where I underwent emergency surgery on my right lung, right ventricle, liver and pancreas. I was then taken to the intensive care unit after an operation lasting over 13 hours.
Plunged into a coma, I was about to discover this world, this elsewhere, from which, as a rule, one does not return, especially with such injuries to major vital organs.
During this period of coma, I remember arriving after a long, exhausting walk in an all-white room where, in front of two large, half-open doors, in a light that was both powerful and gentle, stood a man dressed all in white, with a long beard and long white hair.
The man handed me a pen, which I took and signed, but I noticed that the pen wasn't writing, so the ink hadn't left a trace and the man immediately disappeared and the two doors closed. This is the last image I have of my coma experience after waking up.
Some members of the medical team told me that I was a real "miracle worker" given my many serious injuries. After more than a month's hospitalization at Belle Pierre, I finally returned home, surrounded by the love of my mother and sister.
My convalescence was difficult, with sessions at the physiotherapist's to try and recover as much lung capacity as possible, and apart from these sessions and visits to the various doctors, I went out very little.
During this period, when I had to concentrate mainly on my recovery, perhaps because of this withdrawal into myself, the image of the man in white I had seen in my coma kept coming back to me.
It had become so haunting that one morning, instinctively, I headed for the church near the physiotherapy practice to try and get a rational explanation from a clergyman.
After listening attentively to my story, the priest I met explained to me that, in the Catholic religion, there was indeed a man who matched my description since he was described in all white standing by the Book of the Dead, that he was, in fact, the guardian of the gates of Paradise and that his name was "Saint Peter", and added that I was very lucky to be able to testify to this.
From that moment on, I noticed that all the events in my life were strangely conspiring to lead me to people who spoke to me only about God. When I arrived one morning at the media library on Rue de la Trinité, where I used to go, a man approached me and offered me a little blue book entitled "New Testament".
I must confess that when I was a child, the story of Jesus had never really interested me because it was too complicated to understand. But that day, I decided to go upstairs to the religious books section of the media library to try and find a more comprehensible book about Jesus.
Immediately, a book simply entitled "The Life of Jesus" caught my eye, as if it had been lying there waiting for me. I began reading it until I came to a chapter about Jesus and his band of apostles.
I thought it was funny that the author had defined Jesus' apostles as a "troop" because it reminded me of my own, who had followed me like disciples in my passion for the DALLAS series.
As I progressed in my reading, I came to the chapter recounting Jesus' Calvary, with his mother, Mary, weeping at his side and another Mary bandaging his wounds with a cloth.
These details immediately brought me back to the morning of Friday, October 11, 2002, with my own drama, where I was surrounded by my mother, Mary, and my sister, Mary Lynda.
Then, in the book, I discovered a picture showing where the wounds were located on Jesus' body. Well, the scars left after my operation are on my body in the same places.
The shock of this discovery was very destabilizing for me at the time because, at that precise moment, I understood that I was reliving the same thing that Jesus did 2000 years after him.
I thought I was losing my mind because it was so unimaginable, so I decided to look at it as a coincidence and go home and forget about it.
Then, one day, a nativity film about the birth of Jesus was broadcast on television, and I decided to watch it to see if there could be a similarity between our two lives.
The film explained that Mary had decided to go and give birth in another town to a lady who was also expecting a child, and that's exactly what had happened with my birth, whereas my sister and brother were born in the town of St Benoît.
My mom had explained that I had been born in the town of St Joseph, unlike my sister and brother, because one of her aunts, who was herself expecting a baby, had invited her.
After watching the film, I decided to ask the St Joseph town hall to send me a copy of my birth certificate, and what I hadn't noticed until then was obvious to me: my mom's middle name is MARIE, my dad's middle name is JOSEPH and my middle name is EMMANUEL.
My birth certificate states that I was born in "Place de l'Église"! That's when I made the connection between my childhood passion for the TV series "Dallas", created by David Jacobs, two of the first names at the beginning of the New Testament.
In fact, for me, this series was nothing more than a pretext from the outset to get my troupe together, like Jesus and his band of apostles 2,000 years ago, followed by the episode of the same Calvary, with all that lost blood experienced by Jesus and me on a Friday, with those scars on our bodies in the same places.
In short, I discovered that since my childhood, my life had been the same as Jesus', that our destinies were identical and that I was, therefore, reliving the same events as he was.
Ultimately, I decided to take it all in stride because I've been forced to realize that everything in my life has been done according to God's will since I was born, not my own.
So be it because I thank God for having chosen me despite the trials and suffering associated with this destiny, and I thank you, GOD, for allowing me to stay with my mother and sister on this earth.
Reunion Island, Indian Ocean