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We have just returned from a three-month sabbatical with our two boys around Europe the Middle East and Turkey; an eye opening, educational and life-changing journey for all of us.
Istanbul, Turkey was our final destination and after three months on the road we were all a bit the worse for wear; counting down the days until we could return home.
We decided to take a ferry trip to Prince's Island in the middle of Istanbul's spectacular harbour. After hours on the packed ferry we arrived at our destination, where the boys had a swim to cool down in the unbelievable heat. An hour later we were ready to get back on the boat.
We were a couple of stops from our final destination when my cell phone started to ring. Mark, my husband, said ''don't bother to pick it up, as it's a local number'' so I ignored it twice.
On the third call I finally answered and it was Kahlil, my 14-year-old son, who we thought was still on the lower deck of the ferry with his brother Rafi (11). They had disembarked at the wrong stop and were using a woman's mobile to call.
I was speechless, panicked and trapped. We had to wait until the next ferry stop to get off the boat, the longest 15 minutes of my life.
Kahlil's phone was not working, and the woman whose phone they had used had taken them to the maritime police before catching another ferry herself. After this we had no contact with the boys and had only a Turkish port destination to lead us back to them.
We disembarked in a blind panic and went to taxi after taxi begging them to take us to the port. None of them would let us in their cars and we realised it was not far enough for them to make enough money. I was in tears by this point.
Finally we realised that we would get a taxi if we offered them a lot of money, which we did. It was heavy traffic and the 20 minutes in the car were terrifying.
After another 15 minutes of panic and frustration we arrived at the Eminonu Pier. We went to two ferry terminals in the area to find the boys were nowhere to be seen.
We finally ascertained that the boys were at a different pier area, a couple of hundred metres further up the coast.
We ran to the little covered ticket office and there, coming towards us were our two beautiful boys, looking bewildered, sheepish and scared but otherwise perfectly fine.
We embraced each other as if we had endured years of separation, instead of only a couple of hours. I have never been so happy to see those two handsome faces.
It was the best moment of the trip and in some ways the best moment of my life. We felt so blessed and happy as well as emotionally wrung out.
Mark and I thought afterwards about all those parents who don't get the happy ending, those people who through no fault of their own are separated from their children and never see them again.
We gave thanks for our blessings as we stood in a tight circle on the pier.
''Be careful,'' the taller of two police officers said as we shook his hand firmly, and I thanked him with tears of gratitude and relief running down my face. His eyes were kind, ''Istanbul is a big and dangerous city.''
Former Dunedin woman Emma Farry launched her new book, Freedom Song, a collaboration with Dunedin painter Ewan McDougall at Gallery de Novo, Stuart St, Dunedin, on Saturday.
The book had its beginnings when Farry was 25 years old and working on a documentary about those living with Once Were Warriors poverty and violence.
One woman’s strange detachment from her baby’s death at the hands of her partner, had a profound impact on Farry.
That night she wrote the first draft of what was to become Freedom Song. The poem has been a touchstone ever since, including during her experience of 9/11 while living in New York.
In 2010 she saw an exhibition of Ewan McDougall’s painting at Gallery De Novo and knew she had found the collaborator for her poem.
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