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Great things left undone

Posted: June 25, 2012 - 11:04pm  |  Updated: June 26, 2012 - 6:25am
  Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire
Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire

There will be great things left undone now.

They have risen angelically in balloons, floated peacefully in flowers and fallen forcefully in tears.

They are the things Savannah Cayce was going to do as life unfolded before her. They are the things that touched everyone around her.

Instead, her friends gathered at Auke Lake Monday evening, two days after she was fatally injured in a Jet Ski incident there, and remembered the great things already accomplished.

There was no room to stand along the floating dock bridge that crossed a small corner of the lake where Auke Lake Trail allows the views some call heavenly.

Friends, classmates and acquaintances from both Juneau-Douglas High School, where the 16-year-old Cayce was to be an incoming junior, and Thunder Mountain High School, where Cayce could wreck havoc on opposing swim teams in the 200-IM or 100-Free, hugged tightly together along the span.

“She had a really great sense of humor,” one said. “She loved her sister Jocelyn a lot.”

“That is so true,” another added.

As they spoke their eyes brightened and they laughed softly.

“I got to swim with her,” another said.

“She was fun to hang around with,” another said. “She was always happy and smiling.”

“She was just always happy,” others said. “Everyone liked her.”

“She was the biggest sweetheart,” one said. “The sweetest girl.”

One of the largest and most powerful Crimson Bears’ football players embraced Savannah Cayce’s boyfriend tightly. His hand covered the grieving lad’s head, his arm locked the body half the size of his own in a cocoon as if to protect it from the world. They both shed a grief that overran the waters of Auke Lake.

“He is not doing well,” a friend said.

“We can only keep praying,” another added.

“We have to rely on our friends a lot now,” one said. “And we pray a lot. That is how I deal with it.”

Savannah Cayce’s best friend was numb. Everyone there was numb.

A swim coach, a principal, a teacher, and a parent... this was a grief that was not prejudice. It was indiscriminate in its reach. It touched every click, clan or subspecies of student and athlete and classmate.

It didn’t linger on one dark corner of town, or stray in a back shadow of the valley.

It poured out over the multitudes.

The gathering was planned via Facebook and cell phone. The same medias that Savannah Cayce was counted as a friend, and yet, she extended out into the physical world too.

“She had that playful personality where... you didn’t make her mad or she would come back with some funny comment,” one said with a smile.

“Yeah, but she was so nice to be around,” another said. “I am so happy to call her my friend.”

“I have known her since I moved here,” one said. “She has been my friend since I moved here.”

When the gathering dispersed a small group lingered. Then just a few.

“She was a good swimmer,” one said.

“The boss at swimming man,” another reprimanded.

“Oh yeah she was great,” the first said again.

And they smiled.

There will be things, great great things, which are left undone now.

The things that Savannah Cayce would have done.

Instead they become the things that those she touched will now do, whether knowingly or otherwise, because their own lives have been made better for knowing her.

Six young teens lined a railing, their heads lowered, hands clasped tightly in prayer.

“I didn’t know you,” one said softly in prayer to Savannah Cayce. “But you always made me happy when I came to school.”

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