S. o. s

“I’ve been thinking about our next trip,” my husband Mel announced on a sunny Colorado morning. “Antarctica is the only continent I haven’t visited.”

I knew this meant he had already surfed the Internet and contacted travel agencies for detailed information. We were going to Antarctica.

During previous travels we had toured cathedrals, mosques, and the Vatican. We cruised the fiords of Norway and New Zealand and roamed through castles and palaces in Europe and Asia. We’d trekked the ruins of Pompeii, the Acropolis and Ephesus, watched the sun rise on the pyramids of Egypt and set on the Taj Mahal in India.

One afternoon, after praying and meditating, I heard an inner voice say, “Don’t take that trip.” I shrugged it off until I later got the same disturbing message during other prayer times.

I shared my apprehension with Mel, but he was so set on the trip, he shrugged off any negative comments and continued to peruse travel catalogs. As the departure date neared, I went to bed one night weary with concern, and fell asleep. I woke from a vivid dream warning me that I should not travel to Antarctica.

Disturbed, I prayed about it and told Mel. He again dismissed my concerns. “You must have misinterpreted your dream.”

My increasing concerns were no match for his increasing excitement, which continued to accelerate whenever friends who had taken the cruise raved about it.

As he gathered details, he mentioned that there were no public hospitals on Antarctica. Every passenger was required to present a doctor’s certification that he or she was in good health. Then he added, “Should there be injuries or illness, the only medical assistance would be aboard the tour ship anchored offshore.”

Although we are both octogenarians, we were healthy except for my arthritis. Raised in the Midwest, we had grown up with snow so were not too concerned

about freezing temperatures. We would be bundled in heavy coats, hats, gloves and boots as we hiked the frozen tundra, coated with penguin droppings. What if I slipped and fell?

Although Mel agreed it might be too risky for me to go, it did not dampen his enthusiasm, especially when his adult son offered to accompany him instead. They decided to travel on the M. S. Explorer in November 2007.

When Mel called for reservations, however, he was informed that the tour he chose was fully booked. He contacted other Antarctica tours and learned there were no vacancies. Disappointed, he brooded with frustration before deciding to book the cruise earlier next time.

November 2007 arrived and we were watching television on Thanksgiving evening. A breaking news report interrupted the program. “En route to Antarctica, the MS Explorer hit an iceberg that slashed a huge hole in the hull of the ship.”
I gasped and glanced at Mel whose face paled as he stared at the television screen.

The news correspondent continued, “All ninety-one passengers, nine guides and the crew of fifty-four were safely evacuated before the ship sank.”
Shivering, I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving that everyone survived.

I blotted my eyes and said another prayer of thanks to God for sending me the S. O. S.

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S. o. s