VOICES: Savannah’s legacy

Following her cousin’s tragic death, McLane Fleming describes the memories left behind

McLane Fleming, Staff


FLEMING “No, no, no, no, no.”

My friend and I listen from the backseat as my mom utters the words into the phone. On the other end, I hear some words that I can’t quite make out, although I can tell it’s my dad.

“College is terrible,” I hear my mom say. “They’re too young and dumb to make these life changing decisions on their own.”

My mind immediately goes to my sister, who is a sophomore in college.

Trying to sound calm, I ask my mom, “Is Allie OK?”

No answer.

This time, I can’t help it: I yell. “What happened to Allie? Is she OK?”

“It’s not Allie,” my mom sighs. “It’s Savannah.” My cousin.

My friend looks at me. “Laney,” she says, “You’re shaking like a chihuahua.”

I look down to see my legs covered in goose-bumps. My mom is crying, and I try to lift my arm to tap her, to ask her exactly what happened, but I feel too weak.  

Finally, I muster the courage. “Mom, what happened to her? Is she OK?”

“No Laney,” my mom says, her voice stuffy from crying. “She was in a car accident last night. She passed away.”

I have so many questions. Was she driving? Was anyone with her? Where is she right now? Where is she on her way to? But I just stay silent.

I later found out when Savannah died, she was riding in a car with her boyfriend’s best friend, who lost control of the wheel. The truck went flying, and Savannah landed on the passenger side, the impact killing her instantly.

Even though I wanted to know what happened to her, I try not to think about it. Instead, I remember all the things I loved about her.

Savannah lived in Arizona,  so we weren’t together that much, but when we were, it was some of the best times of my life. I could tell her anything, and she’d understand because she knew she wasn’t perfect, either.

And Savannah loved to laugh — any time we were together, we couldn’t help but laugh.

In the summer of 2013, Savannah came and stayed with me. Horses were a big part of both our lives, because my dad and her mom train horses. Each morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn, put our makeup on, and “cowgirled” up. We had to look good, she said, in the off chance we’d find a good lookin’ cowboy at the barn.

We’d stroll on the ponies, listening to the sound of their hooves click-clacking on the pavement. Sometimes we’d even go up on hills, and Savannah would make her horse trot down, and she’d smooch mine to follow along, even though I didn’t want to. But I followed anyway and enjoyed every second, screaming, laughing, almost crying while Savannah looked up at me and laughed so hard she nearly fell off her horse.

Even though she knew how to have fun, Savannah always knew what to say in serious times, when you need it the most.

“Girl, you don’t need any boy who doesn’t need you,” she told me once. “The only people you can’t live without is family. Anyone else isn’t worth your tears.”