Brussels is my hometown.
It’s the place where I was born and raised, educated and where I have lots of friends and family members. And although my bond with the UK is very very strong, this is the city I live in and where my children are going to school. We take that metro line every day, it could have been us, amongst the casualties it could have been my brother-in-law and his wife who were evacuated at the airport. It’s a fallen friend’s student, a friend’s friend, a face we’ve seen sometimes on the line or a visitor of this beautiful country. Just like in Paris,Bamako or London : through this attack it’s the mankind in all its diversity that is aimed through this attack. By killing civilians going to work, travelling, having fun at a concert or having a drink,they want to kill life. They kill and do horrors and they have to pay for their crimes but one thing they can’t do is stop us to love, stop us to live. They can’t take our soul and they certainly can’t take our freedom. Even if we’re still under shock, and I guess it was the same for other countries, we have to go out, raise a glass in honor of the fallen, pay our respect but continue to live as well. Daech want us to hate? we will love, they want us to cry? when the shock will be gone we will laugh with that peculiar belgian humour that we have and love to share with newcomers, they want us to stay inside and be depressed, we’ll go back to the movies, the theatres , the restaurants, we will continue to love the city, make it live and show it to our welcomed visitors. Funny to write about the importance to live to the fullest when you consider that I spend my professionnal and private time searching for people dead long time ago but I guess it’s my way to pass on their legacies and stories to the living 😉
I really liked the victims words as they could have been bitter and full of hate but no, they were words full of wisdom and love, as one can see in this french speaking video of a father whose daughter was killed in Maelbeek station. Let’s follow their example and work out the best side of us.
Life will never be the same in Belgium and we all know it. It still has to sink in, metro stations have to fully reopen and attrack visitors, institutions (archives and libraries included) too. Tourists have to come back and I’m sure they will for Belgium has a lot of wonders to show (they are must-see but please don’t only stop at the « Grand Place-Bruges-Chocolat shop-Over » station!) but we’ll never forget that day. It’s in us now. Just like 11/9, just like the attacks in Paris, we’ll never forget how we learned or lived the news, how we tried to phone our loved ones in a broken mobile network and how those terrible moments were. In all this chaos, I’m also glad that Brussels Archives decided to stock and preserve all the drawings, notes and poems laid at the spontaneous memorial at the Bourse.
On my part,I think I will appreciate life more than before, I will try not to react to those small daily frustrations (you know that brickwall? that record’s who’s not in the mailbox yet?) anymore thinking that its a train delay that prevented my family from being at the exact place of the bombing and yes, I’ll continue to do what I know best the best way I know how : family history research, telling people about their past so they can go on having learn interesting personal stories and more and live, yes live, the best normal way possible, because just like the earth we all are on, there’s no plan B.
Keep calm and Love Belgium!