Welcome to Three Questions with Van Heerling. This is where you get to meet authors, actors, painters and anyone else that is bent toward the arts, but on a more personal level.
Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Jude Ouvrard, author of Wonderland.
Buckle up. This will be a heck of a ride.
VH: When was the last time you felt alive? I mean really alive!
JO: When I was 14, I was in a car accident. My dad was driving and I was sitting in the passenger seat. We were hit head on. The only thing I remember is my father telling me to watch out and he placed his arm in front of me when we were about to be hit. Seconds later, my dad was opening my car door and asking me to move my legs. I was okay but my face and my eyes were burning. At the time of the impact, I was calling my mother with my father's cellphone. When the air bag deployed, the phone crashed into the right side of my face. The paramedics arrived and I was on my way to the hospital minutes later.
I looked like a boxer after a really rough match. My right eye was terribly swollen and I had scratches all over my face. My eye was in a pretty bad shape. I had internal bleeding and traumatic injuries. As a result, I had lost 90% of my vision and could only see shadows and some colors. I stayed in that condition for a year and finally had a surgery.
The most beautiful day of my life was when I walked out of the hospital two days later and I could see again. I felt alive again and relief for having survived such a terrible accident. Although I was still not perfect, I felt a lot better. I had to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes, but I remember seeing the sun rays. This particular time in my life will always be one of my happiest moments. My right eye will never be how it was prior to the accident, but I'm happy that I can see again.
VH: If you had one hour left to live from this moment, who would you seek? What would you do? Why?
JO: One hour doesn’t give me enough time to drive to my parents. I would get there but I would have maybe five minutes with them.
I would spend the hour with my son. I would write him a list of things I want him to achieve. Things that I wish I had time to do or things that I wish I had witnessed him doing. I would give him all the advice I could think of and I would take pictures of us. Pictures are so meaningful to me, they sometimes mean so much more than words. A family portrait is the perfect memory.
I would also call my family and tell them how much they mean to me and how much I wish I could have been closer.
An hour is definitely not enough.
VH: If you could go back in time to when you were seven years old, what wisdom or advice would you pass on to your former self?
JO: I would tell myself to Be Myself and to not care about what people might think or say about me.
Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spent my life trying to be what other people wanted me to be instead of being myself—this is not the way to live.
At that young age, you are trying to make friends at school and to be loved by them as well. I wish that I had been stronger at the time. I had friends but it wasn’t always easy. Their influence was strong and at the end of the day, I was following them instead of doing my own thing.
Elementary school and high school were the hardest for me. I struggled and it affected my life. I had good grades and I was a good student but my feelings and emotions were all mixed up.
Being strong enough to truly be yourself shows how dedicated you are and it helps you get or achieve what you want in life.
VH: Jude thank you for allowing us to peek behind the curtain for a moment. It was a pleasure getting to know you better.
Lucas Colton is far too young to go through all this pain but meeting poetry teacher, Preston Davidson, changed everything. His life went from heartbreak to joyful and then, from friendship to love. The impact Preston had on Lucas’ life was mesmerising. What would you do if you knew you may not have a tomorrow?
When I arrived at Central Park, Preston was sitting by the statue of Alice in Wonderland with two steaming cups of coffee in hand. He wore a canary yellow sweatshirt with a pair of dark blue jeans and black leather converse.
“You’re on time,” I teased, taking one of the cups from him.
“I figure I shouldn’t waste any more time.” Preston took a sip of his coffee. “Life is too important right now. I don’t want to miss anything.”
“I can see that you’ve thought about my situation thoroughly.” I couldn’t help but be flattered. It was obvious now that he cared about me, even if just as a friend.
“I have a few questions for you. If you don’t mind, of course.”
Curious, I wanted to know what was going on inside his brain. Looking through his glasses, I saw how tired his eyes were, how the rims were red. He hadn’t slept all night, I would bet. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to answer all of them, but I’m willing to try.”
Preston made me nervous, and I hoped he wasn’t going to ask for a medical explanation. I had asked to be told what was necessary. The details weren’t important to me. All I knew was that I had kidney cancer, and that it had started to spread to my other organs. My lungs were affected, but they were giving me enough medication to keep me out of pain.
“I want you to name three things you can’t live without,” he said. That seemed pretty simple, nothing to be worried about.
“Coffee, a good movie, and cheesecake.” I laughed. “You took me off guard. I don’t know, but those are things that I enjoy, I guess.”
“It’s perfect. Now tell me: what would you do if bacteria were killing all the coffee beans in the world, and you foresaw that thirty days from now, you wouldn’t be able to find a single coffee bean in the world?”
Was Preston serious? What kind of question was that? I shook my head and smiled. “I’d drink as much as I could, and I’d try to freeze some to keep for special occasions.”
“Good answer. Now tell me: what would you do if the film industry decided that it was no longer profit-earning to produce movies and that thirty days from now, there wouldn’t be any movies anywhere for sale or rent?”
“I would buy as many movies as I could afford, and go to the movie theater one last time.”
“Another great answer. Last, but not least: what would you do if the Cheesecake Factory was going bankrupt, and thirty days from now, you couldn’t find a single piece of cheesecake in the entire world?”
“I would eat cheesecake for every meal, gain weight, and die of heart failure,” I joked.
Preston laughed. “I’m asking you all these questions because I’ve come up with a plan. You said you might have weeks to live. Let’s hope you have a month. You have to make the most out of it. You have to enjoy and do everything you’ve ever dreamed of doing. Are you ready to have the best time of your life?”
A smile spread over my lips. “Okay, I see where you’re going with this.”
“I’ll spend that month with you. I want to be with you every time you smile or cry, when you feel good, or when you’re in pain. You can’t do this alone, Lucas. So tell me: what is it that you’ve always dreamed of doing?”
“I’m a pretty simple guy; don’t need much to be happy, so forgive me if we aren’t going to Australia. I think we’ll stay here in New York.”
“Sounds good to me — and my wallet.” Preston looked at me, waiting for me to tell him everything I wanted to do before the end came.
“I want to go to a rock concert.”
“Perfect.” He wrote it down in his pocket size notebook. “What else?”
“Um, I want to watch all the Star Wars movies while eating greasy pizza in front of a fireplace.”
“Today is your lucky day; I have a fireplace at home.” Preston had a huge grin on his face. He was enjoying this, probably more than I was. “Next?”
“I want to see a Broadway show. Don’t care which production, just want to watch one.”
“I’ve seen them all so I’ll take you to see my favorite.” He lifted his eyes from his pad up to mine. “Anything else?”
I took few moments to think, my hand reached for my chin while I looked at the sky.
“I want to go to a gospel celebration.” I laughed while he wrote it down. “And I want us to sing our hearts out and dance with them.”
“We’ll see about the dancing part. Keep going with the ideas.”
“I don’t know. I want to take long walks in Central Park. This is my favorite season.”
“We’ll come here every day, if you want.”
I nodded. Preston put his notebook into the back pocket of his jeans and looked at me like he was seeing my soul. I felt the vibration and the appreciation for everything he was doing for me, but I couldn’t get my head around it. Why would he do all of this for me? I had just met him, after all.
Jude was born and raised in a small village named Lacolle. She now lives in Montreal, Canada.She is the proud mother of a beautiful four year old son, and has spent the last twelve years with her partner, Cedric.
French is her native language, but she prefers to write in her second language, English. Jude has a passion for books, both reading and writing them. She is currently working on a novel called Body, Ink, and Soul. Coming soon!
Also by Jude Ouvrard:
“Under the Sun,” Heat Wave: Beach Reads Volume Two
Need More Jude Ouvrard?
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"For me, writing is a joyful torture or sorts." ~vh~
“In this life, seek your own answers, and quote yourself for a change.” ~vh~
The muse has tapped my shoulder and my ear is turned toward her lips. I am waiting for her whisper. ~vh~
"The funny thing about life: more often than not it’s laughing at you rather than you laughing at it." ~vh~
"At some point there is a moment when you should give up. I’m here to tell you that today is not that day." ~vh~
“If you are afraid of the truth, never ask a young child a question.” ~vh~
“The frailty of life is most evident at its last breath.” vh
“Prove not to the world but to yourself that you are above your current circumstance.” ~vh~
"Don't be wishful when it comes to your dreams. Take aggressive action in your pursuit of them. Start now with a single step, no matter how insignificant it may feel." ~vh~
"Nothing is more powerful than an unwavering, unapologetic decision to BE." ~vh~
"Strive to be the light in an ever-darkening world. SHINE!" ~vh~
"Think big and then think small. That’s where the details live." ~vh~