As with all of the recent attacks around the world – Abidjan, Ankara, Istanbul, Bamako, Ouagadougou, Paris, Baghdad, Kabul…the list seems endless – my heart hurts today for Bruxelles.
I will not lie: today hit me differently than the other attacks. Not because I care more or less about one place or another, but because I carry a Belgian passport, along with an American passport.
My ties to Belgium run deep and long. My maternal grandmother’s family was from Belgium. I first lived there in college, in the 1980s. I lived there again in the 1990s and in the year 2000, I became the foster mother of a young Belgian woman who remains one of the most important people in my life today.
When I saw the first notice of the attacks, my heart stopped for a moment, and then I began searching for everyone I know who lives there to make sure they were accounted for. Much to my relief, everyone seems to be okay. Friends of friends were injured, acquaintances were there but unharmed. Other friends were also in Belgium and I didn’t even know it. They were there on business or in transit, and they too – luckily – are okay.
But it is hard to look at the reports and see pictures of something so familiar that you recognize the smallest details. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have traveled through Zaventem Airport, or ridden the subway in Bruxelles. And so this hit me in a very different way than other places – even other places I have worked or visited – because this was once my home and Belgium is a part of me. If this has hit you too, I send you extra hugs and love to heal your heart.
My heart goes out to all of the people impacted by today’s events, as well as all of the other horrific events in recent (and distant) past. My heart also goes out to all of the people who will likely be wrongly blamed for the attacks until they figure out who the real murderers were.
Thank you, also, to everyone who checked on me. No doubt you knew I was fine because I am not currently in Belgium, but that you took the time to text or message me to check in means the world to me. Merci.
The world needs a hug – endless rounds of hugs – and a lot, a Lot, A LOT of love.