Sandra Schmirler : Loved For Being Herself

FTLComm - Tisdale - March 3, 2000

People come into this world and leave it all of the time, it is part of the "normal" process of things. Yesterday when I heard of her death I was truly shaken and moved. I had never met the woman personally but the loss was just as much felt by me and thousands of other people in this province and across this country as if she had been one of the family. But it is precisely our inclusion of this woman into our lives that made her part of our extended family. When I told my father of her death on the phone yesterday morning or when I talked about it to my wife and sons, also on the phone each of them responded as though one of our own had died, but the reality is she is one of our own.

When the news was read on CBC morning show at 8:30 yesterday Sheila Coles, who has worked here in Saskatchewan for over a decade, first in Saskatoon and now in Regina, was able to keep on the air, but everyone listening could tell that Sheila had lost a friend. CBC Regina's staff sort of took the rest of the day and focused on Sandra Schmirler's life, Lindy Thorsen held a telephone call in show at one where people told their Sandra stories, the grieving was public, open and shared by the callers and by the listeners. At 4:00 Colin Gruer picked up the theme and followed through with interviews and more stories. CBC television provincially and nationally did the same as did CTV and TSN.

For one of the few times in history the provincial government dropped its flag to half mast, something it has only done in the past for the passing of a monarch. Throughout the province from Yorkton to Lloydminister, Maple Creek to LaRonge people shared with each other their remarkable recollections of this woman. But the process went on far beyond the borders of this province, Edmonton's ITV did a tribute and across Canada television and radio stations did interviews with Sandra's friends coast to coast, because that was the case, she had friends coast to coast and all told stories and celebrated the remarkable short life of a girl from Biggar who made the choice to curl instead of play basketball in high school.

Without pretension, with humility and good spirits Sandra Schmirler was always herself and shared with others her feelings, competitiveness and generousity. We all new what it was like to win and lose with Sandra and what it meant to become a mother and the realisation of the fragility of life when overwhelmed with a massive disease. She told us about all of those things and more, she touched us and we made her one of the our family.

We have been entering into a new era as a society. Death is a necessary function of life but during the past few years we have seen some remarkable changes in the way we recognise death and how our emerging culture is developing new ways for us to get through the pain of departure. Television and Radio have really done their part in this information age and this article and yesterday's short message are part of the way we are using the Internet to grieve and mourn. We are more involved with each other then ever before and what happens to one, affects everyone, at an alarming speed.

If you saw or heard the premier speaking about Sandra Schmirler yesterday, you caught on immediately he was talking about someone he knew, but more then that, he was extending the province's sympathy, not only to her family and close friends, but to everyone in the province, whom he knew had all suffered a serious loss. Keep that in mind when you talk to people about her, because everyone was connected to Sandra Schmirler and everyone needs some comfort at her passing.

Timothy W. Shire

I had not planned on doing this article this morning, I thought it was better to deal with this issue on my own, but then Barrie Ward sent me the picture at the top of the page and Judy Garland's fifteen year old voice as his expression of loss. Thanks Barry, and so I am sharing with you both the song and the picture.