My dad PERNOD RICARD AWARD Best Sports photography 1971It is with a very heavy heart that I have to inform you of what has been happening in our family lately…

Last Saturday started like a beautiful weekend…Steve went off to Cardiff to watch the All Blacks beat the hell out of the French and Mila and I went to stay with some friends. Besides the fact that Mila left the car key in the boot of the car which locked itself with all our belongings for the weekend in it and I spent the afternoon trying to work out the best plan to get hold of the second set of keys we had at home, it was a nice afternoon. We decided to take the kids to the skatepark and enjoy ourselves. At 5pm, my mum called me and told me that my dad had taken his own life.

In the past three years, my dad has been struggling with depression. This has been a tough journey for our family and one that I never mentioned on the blog. I mentioned my own depression here and here and ways that helped me to keep it at bay but I’m also from a different generation. A generation that doesn’t feel ashamed from being hit by it, one that never thought it was a sign of weakness because I know that if there is one thing I’m not, it’s weak. A generation that talks about it and the truth to be told, being able to talk to Steve and Mila openly about it, helped me to recover quickly.

My dad was from a different generation. The one that believes that only mad people with major psychiatric problems suffer from it. One that makes you believe you are less of a man, the one that makes you feel so ashamed that you can’t talk to the people close to you or those who would be able to help to you so for three years, my dad went down, little by little. He stopped eating, getting up, living. He stopped connecting with us. He looked like death, he was so weak and skinny, it was awful to watch.

Last Summer I lost it and kicked him out of his bedroom to open the windows wide, change his sheets, get him to walk, to do something. We had a massive argument, he told me to go to hell and then he went back to bed. On Father’s Day, he looked so weak, he could hardly stand on his legs. It was heart-breaking.

In the last few months, he had finally started to come out of this long and deep depression.

He had started eating again. He was walking two or three times a day. He was interacting with us, he was making plans like going to Paris to see Elodie or taking the boat out. He was planning ahead to attend his friend’s birthday. Some days, he still looked completely spaced out or was going on about all the friends he had lost to death but compared to the last three years in bed not eating, it was a massive improvement. and then this…

The Psychiatrist said he saw the Everest…In a moment of lucidity, he realised that he had gone down so low that he would take him years to be the man he was again and gave up. He gave up on life, on fighting.

My dad, our dad…was an amazing human being, so passionate about life. He lived and breathed rugby. He was a solar person, one that attracts people. He was very social. Compared to my mum who keeps to herself, my dad loved having people around. Each time, we organised big BBQs & parties with all our friends, both our parents joined in and he would stay up late talking about rugby, politics, authors, American movie, society, music. He used to listen to JJ Cole, Clapton, John Lee Hooker, Nina Simone, Mano Solo (which I found incredibly depressing) so flipping loud, it was driving us nuts and now he is gone…

It has been 5 days now. We told Mila and Lily this morning which wasn’t easy and it is not over. The amount of decisions we have to make as a family, in a very short time on things that really we don’t give a shit because nothing matters, nothing compares to the loss we are feeling, is draining.

And then we had to call people, his family, his friends, our friends and feel everyone’s loss and pain again. I did the first round to announce the news. François took mum to the funerals company to sort out the details, Elodie did the second round to inform everybody of the details of the ceremony. He had so many friends since he started playing rugby as a kid…

As a family, I think we all made peace with his decision. We understand the pain he must have been feeling. Elodie regrets that he didn’t tell her us but I think none of us would have been ready to hear him saying goodbye, to let him go. In fact, he probably told us many times it was too hard for him but we are fighters in our family, we don’t give up on things easily and we didn’t want him to give up but then again, we were not in his shoes. Throughout his life, he fought for many things but this one, was a hell of a battle and having gone through the depth and darkness of mild depression, I get a glimpse of what it must have been for him days in days out for three years…not a couple of months, three years with no improvement or very little, added to the fact that he was suffering from Behçet, a rare illness that sometimes gave him not just one mouth ulcer but twenty at once and so much pain.

I want to remember of my dad for who he was, not the person he was these past three years but the person he was his whole life. A kind, loving father, someone who was incredibly passionate about a lot of things and a great grand-dad.

I’ve no intention of turning this blog into some rambling, emotional online diary but I’ve always used the blog and writing to process my thoughts, draw experience, find a positive spin on things and help others so I just wanted you to know what’s going on in my life because right now, I find no point in writing about interior design or fashion. I actually don’t give a damn. This week has been like a time capsule when I had little awareness of what day it was exactly. Now that the girls know about it, it’s a bit easier…we can try to focus on the good memories. I’m pretty sure it will hit me properly next week once we’ve gone through the motions of organising everything.

Thanks for everything and thanks to all my friends who already know and have been there for me.



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