Xavier, Thursday morning, as usual, I went to work and you were still asleep. We exchanged over the course of the day on our holiday project, in a country so far away that you had told me you were very impatient [because] you had never been this far. Visa details, our accommodations. These concerns invaded our messages with a frenzy all the more joyful as our airline tickets were booked since Tuesday.
You left for work at 2 o’clock in the orderly policeman’s outfit that you were so careful about because your presentation had to be irreproachable. Your comrades and you had the mission of joining the police station of the 8th arrondissement, where, as often, you had to ensure the safety of the public on this beautiful avenue, the Champs-Elysees. You had been designated a parking spot at 102 Avenue des Champs-Elysees, in front of the Cultural Institute of Turkey. This type of mission, I know, pleases you, because it was the Champs and the image of France, because it was also the culture you were protecting.
At that moment, the worst arrived for you and your comrades. One of those events that everyone dreads and hopes will never happen. You were swept away without knowing and for that I thank your good star. Your comrades were wounded, one of them seriously. They are recovering gradually and we are relieved. All were shocked.
I came home in the evening, without you, with extreme and profound grief, which may perhaps be calmed one day, I do not know. This pain made me feel closer than ever to your comrades who suffer, like you, silently; like me, silently.
And, as far as I am concerned, I suffer without hatred. I borrow this formula from Antoine Leiris [whose wife, Hélène Muyal-Leiris, was killed at the Bataclan on November 13, 2015] whose immense wisdom in the face of pain I have admired so much that I read and re-read his lines a few months ago. It is a lesson in life that has made me grow so much that it protects me today.
When the first messages were published informing Parisians that a serious event was taking place on the Champs-Elysees and a policeman had lost his life, a small voice told me that it was you, and I recalled this generous and healing formula: “You will not have my hatred.”
This hatred, Xavier, I do not have because it does not resemble you, because it does not correspond to anything that made your heat beat, or what made you a gendarme, then a guardian of peace. Because the general interest, the service of others and the protection of all were part of your education and your convictions, and that tolerance, dialogue and temperance were your best weapons. Because behind the policeman there was the man. You become a policeman or gendarme only by choice. The choice of helping others, protecting society, and fighting injustices. This noble mission, which the police and the gendarmerie ensure, and which are regularly undermined.
I, as a citizen, before I even knew you, I admired it already. This policing profession is the only one to which the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen refers. Article 12 states that “the guarantee of the rights of man and citizen requires a public force”, with useful precision in this politically important period: “This force is instituted for the benefit of all, And not for the particular utility of those to whom it is entrusted.” This was the vision we shared of this profession, but only one facet of the man you were.
The other facet of man was a world of culture and joy, where cinema and music played an important part. Five cinema sessions on a beautiful sunny August day did not scare you. And of course, the original versions were privileged for the purist you were and for that language, English, that you wanted to speak to perfection. You followed the concerts, sometimes following the artists on a complete tour. Céline Dion was your star, Zazie, Madonna or Britney Spears and so many others made our windows vibrate. The theater transported you and you lived it fully. No cultural experience made you back down. Even the worst of the films was seen the day of its release, to the end, whatever its quality. A life of joy and immense smiles in which love and tolerance reigned as undisputed masters. This life of stars, you leave it like a star.
I would like to tell all your comrades how close I am to them. I would like to tell your police hierarchy how much I have seen sincerity in your eyes and humanity in your gestures. …..
…I would like to say to all those who are struggling to prevent this from happening, that these events are happening, that I know their guilt and their sense of failure, and that they must continue to fight for peace. I would like to say to all those who have shown us their affection, to their parents and to me, that we have been deeply aware of it. I would like to tell your family that we are united. And to all those closest who have been so anxious about me, who have been so anxious about us, that they are magnificently worthy of you.
To you, I would like to tell you that you will stay in my heart forever. I love you. Let us all remain worthy and watch over the peace. And keep the peace.
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