OCEANIC: Heart and Soul By Peg Scarano

Word: Oceanic
Word Count: 508

Heart and Soul
By Peg Scarano

It was spring of 2001. My oldest daughter, Jenny, informed me she had decided to go to Madagascar for her 2002 J-term at Hartwick College. This is a four week trip 20 biology classmates attend to study the flora and fauna of a unique island nation. “Do you have to go so far away? That’s two oceans away!” Her response was a patient, “Yes, mom.”

Then September 11th happened. I assumed the trip would be cancelled. But the reality was, they were not going to cancel this trip, or any other college sponsored J-term trip, because that is exactly what those terrorists wanted to do – disrupt our lives.

The first of January arrived and off they flew. I received an email occasionally (when they were in civilization) saying everything was beautiful from the lemurs to the natives and that she was looking forward to the end of the trip when they were going to spend three days on an Indian Ocean beach.

Then the college email arrived informing us there was a political uprising in Madagascar and the international airport was closed indefinitely. The twenty students and two professors ended up spending two extra weeks in the capital of Antananarivo holed up in a dirty hotel with Madagascar hissing cockroaches and no air conditioning. I called my local political representatives who suggested notifying the news media. For over a week, FOX news and WKTV trucks were parked in my driveway when I came home from work wanting a status update.

My heart was broken and my soul was oceans away. During this time, I heard the song Somewhere Out There and this verse became ingrained in my mind:
And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star.
And when the night wind starts to sing a lonesome lullaby
It helps to think we’re sleeping underneath the same big sky!
I will never forget the comfort I found in those words.

Finally, we got word that the American Embassy arranged for cut-cuts (the Malagasy version of tiny buses) to take the group to the coastal city of Tamatave (through a monsoon) where they caught a cargo-cruise ship to the island of Reunion. They had no idea they had to sail through a typhoon to get there. Everyone on board spent 2-1/2 days vomiting. From Reunion, they flew to Rome and then Paris and finally, JFK.

Two weeks and two days after they were supposed to get home, I watched Jenny come through customs and I felt the same joy I felt when I first laid eyes on her, 21 years previously. I had my heart and soul back.

Four years later, my middle daughter, Julie, announced, “I’m going to Thailand for J-term next winter!” I said, “No, you are not!” Which was followed by, “That’s not fair!” I quietly explained that life is not fair. Get over it. Julie spent the month of January in the Bahamas and my heart and soul remained intact.

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