An Update from Brussels – posted on Facebook Nov. 21 by Carrie Knowles, our 2014 Piedmont Laureate (and mother of a member of the Brussels Chamber Orchestra, to visit whose family she is in Belgium). Reprinted here with the author’s permission.

Terror. Terrorists. We brace ourselves not to be afraid to not give in. But we are in Brussels visiting our son Neil and his family. We have enjoyed walks in the park with our grandson, Aidan. Have shopped each day at the local markets for dinner. We go to the bakery for bread and sit in the cafes enjoying a drink and some time just talking.

Then this morning we wake to a high alert. The subways are closed. Concerts cancelled. Museums shuttered and buses stopped. We are told we are on the highest alert.

Do we thumb our noses and go to the big market as planned or pull in and only go to the grocer around the block?

We talk briefly then decide our grandchild is too precious. Too innocent. Too full of promise to compromise with our bold principals.

We stay close to home.

Plans change.

We are not afraid.

We hope for a better day tomorrow.

We take care to make eye contact with each person on the street to say we care.

Our daughter in law saw a young Arab man with a child the age of her son. The child was barefoot, with no jacket. It was cold. She had just purchased mittens for her own son. She gave the mittens to the man for his child.

We talk to the Muslim mothers who come to the park with their children.

We want to make contact. Not turn our backs on what is wrong.

But still we change plans to be safe.

UPDATED 11/24: Carrie Knowles is now safely back in Raleigh as Brussels remains tense but – thus far – free of overt violence.