Panic gripped my heart. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think clearly. Tears threatened to spill as I called out to my four- and five-year-olds, “Come quickly! We must go back!”
There were warning signs posted all over the city, but I didn’t think it would happen to me. I had been taking precautions for two weeks, but for a few brief moments I was a sitting duck.
My biggest fear on the trip was that I would get separated from one, or both, of my children in the subway. So, I wrote all of our contact information onto slips of paper pinned to their waistbands. I wrote the same information in their shoes, and on their upper arms. I also practiced with them what to do if they were on a train without mommy.
The apartment we had rented in Brussels was overwhelmingly hot and stuffy. We slept with the windows open, but mosquitoes were eating the children alive. So, while hubby was at work, I decided to move our things to a hotel.
I struggled down the steps into the subway with two 50-pound suitcases, three smaller bags and my backpack, keeping a close eye on the children. With great effort we managed to switch to our second train just before it left the platform, watching carefully to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind. Upon arriving at our stop, I made sure the kids got off and had just enough time to gather our things.
We moved through the subway station and into the street, while I mentally wrote my next Facebook update: “Took two 50-pound bags, three carry-ons, a backpack, and two small children through three subway stations and on two trains! I am woman! Hear me roar!”
As we trekked our luggage down the cobblestone street, I shifted my backpack to the other shoulder. It was then that I noticed it was hanging wide open! I immediately checked for my wallet and passports, but they were gone. I checked again and again. Definitely gone!