Jean-Daniel

 

 

 

 

 

When Natalie asked me to write my story, I must tell you frankly that the first thing that came to my mind is that I was simply unable … Because it goes back so far, because I may not have the courage, or incapable because ultimately it is a story about what I didn’t see, didn’t know and didn’t experience.

I think it’s a mixture of these three reasons that I waited until the last minute to finally put pen to paper today, but finally I decided to do it because I am hoping, in my own way, my story can somehow be of benefit to someone, somewhere …

We all have an idol when we’re young… For me, it was my big brother! Handsome, strong, athletic, fearless, loved by girls and always successful at everything he tried… I always thought, “When I grow up I want to be like him !!! “….

He was a footballer, I played football … He was a musician, I learned an instrument. … He was a biker, I got a bike. And when I say biker, he was even part of a crazy group called the “Wheel of Death” .
Then he became a professional acrobat rider for the Swiss army and performed in various official events, so you can see a bit of the kind of guy he was, someone you could only admire, envy and love …

Until that fateful day when he came home in the middle of the week, unexpectedly because he was not feeling well … For him to come home and leave his motorcycle and his army buddies, you know it has to be serious, but we still had no idea just how serious it was going to be…

The doctors diagnosed practically everything and anything, even appendicitis and did an emergency operation, which turned out to be completely unnecessary … Only three days after the operation when the wound would not heal did the doctors realize that in fact, he had leukemia …

In 1979, the word leukemia was unknown to me and I have to say that I did not understand right away what was going on … Especially at the time they hid everything from us (and we didin’t have the right to visit him in the hospital, my mother was the only one allowed). Maybe it was the word cancer that was taboo or maybe it was to try to protect us … All I knew was that my big brother, my idol, was sick, but for me it was clear that in a few days he would be on his feet again, he was such a force of nature … I was wrong …

I only realized how sick he was when I saw him 10 days later on the sidelines of the football field in Sallaz, during one of the games I was playing  against Chailly FC, the club where he and I had played as juniors…. And when I say I saw him, I should say I barely recognized him as he was thin and ghostly, he could barely stand and had to be held by two of his (many) friends, because otherwise he would have fallen… I learned later that he had insisted on coming to see me play, against the advice of all the doctors… .Afraid of nothing, and so strong willed ..

That picture of him on the sidelines of my game is unfortunately the last I have of my older brother, who died the next day, before I ever had the chance to talk to him or tell him goodbye.

Losing a big brother of only 21 years old within two weeks without understanding what is happening to you is very hard, but to not be able to say goodbye … is terrible. I have felt since then, and still feel, that there is a hole inside of me and I know it will never be filled.

But I want to remember one thing: he faced and ignored his suffering just to come see me on a Sunday morning in March 1979; and I even imagine that I glimpsed a smile on his face when our eyes met for the last time … And that’s the memory I want to keep you, my idol, my big brother, Jean-Daniel.

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