Their last phone call


Her son sought to calm her. He told her that his fellow submariners had everything they needed to live underwater. Argentinian mother Susana Miguens told the Wall Street Journal recently that she last spoke with her son Leandro Cisneros, a seaman in the Argentine Navy, in early November.

Unfortunately, she would never have the chance to speak to him again.

Earlier this month, the Argentina Navy said that it had officially given up hope of finding the submarine crew aboard the ARA San Juan. The 44-member crew left Ushuaia on November 8 bound for its home base of Mar del Plata about 260 miles south of Buenos Aires. Argentine Navy officials believe the sub took on water and had a fire in a battery compartment. The crew got the fire under control, but officials believe a later blast instantly killed the sailors and sent the vessel to the seafloor.

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Last words

Like most people, when tragedy strikes like the disappearance of the ARA San Juan, I’m struck by the finality of the situation. I’m left to ponder the final conversations between the crew and their family and friends.

For instance, what did Miguens say to her son? Was is it a long conversation or a short one? How did she leave the conversation? What was said and unsaid? If she had it to do over, what would she say differently? When did they think they would talk again?

For a woman I interviewed years ago when her 18-year-old son died from meningitis, her final conversation with her son was on the school work he was missing. I remember interviewing her after the death and she was saddened that she had been so hard on her son.

He came down with fever and flu-like symptoms over a weekend, missed a couple days of school and passed away a couple of days later. “I didn’t give him a break, I didn’t let up on him,” she told me.

When I tried to comfort her by suggesting that her discipline helped her son get the A’s and B’s that helped get him into the trade school that he planned to attend in the Fall, she said in a whisper: “I didn’t have to be so mean. I should’ve told him that I loved him.”

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The clock ticks on

Life waits for no man. We never have the time to say all the things we want to say or do all the things we need to do. Miguen’s son had to board his ship. The husband who died in the head-on car accident near me recently had to get to work. We don’t have a crystal ball, we don’t know what’s around the next corner. Life happens.

Hopefully we get to say the things we need to say, forgive those we need to forgive, and leave our family with happy, warm thoughts and no regrets.

I thought about that before I got into my car the other day to head to work. I thought about the Argentine submarine accident and other tragedies I’ve seen on the news in recent weeks. I don’t have any answers on how to stop them or prevent them. I’m just like everyone else, but I did take one small step out of the ordinary.

Before I started my car, I quickly typed out a random, out-of-the-blue text message to my family. I left the rants and lectures, emojis, and Youtube videos for another day: I wrote simply that I loved them.

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