We Love You, Sandra Sandra Her Clan Photos Videos Happy Ending In Her Memory
Sandra Stories from Her Clan

With Zeal - Keely Commins Enna 

I first met Sandra in Shantytown at the UC Berkeley Forestry Camp in 1995.  We were the first people to arrive at camp who chose to live for the summer in a little half wood-half screened dust-filled shack instead of the cushy dormitory accommodations available.  Sandra was larger than life from the first moment I met her.  She had a palpable electricity that foretold great adventures.  All of my memories from that fun-filled summer include Sandra. 

Sandra's quest for adventure was just as strong as her quest for knowledge.  She was a good student and finished her work quickly, which allowed us to spend afternoons tromping through the forest, looking for bird nests, looking for whatever was around that next bend.  We spent many evenings chatting and singing at the local pub, the 10-2, which was walking distance from Forestry Camp.  When the 10-2 shut down, the good times would often spill into a nearby meadow.  We spent weekends lounging near gushing rivers, talking, laughing, swimming.  When Sandra and I had explored everything within walking distance, we began hitch-hiking into Quincy, with no particular goal other than to see who we'd meet.  Everyone we met was wonderfully kind and entertaining.   

One weekend my brother came up to visit and we drove to Mt. Shasta.  We planned to summit the 14,179 foot mountain the next day, though we had concocted to actual "plan" as such.  We stumbled into an outfitter two minutes before closing on Friday evening to rent crampons and ice picks.  None of us had used this equipment before, so we got a brief lesson from the salesperson.  After dinner in town, Sandra, my brother Kevin and I stumbled into Horse Camp, in the middle of the night, set up our tents and got a few hours of sleep.  We began climbing the mountain early in the morning, a race against the daily snow melt.  Sandra and I attacked the mountain with aplomb, racing up the face of the giant at a blistering pace, despite our blistering feet.  Once we neared the summit, conditions became horrible, and the white of the sky was difficult to distinguish from the white of the snow.  Many hikers turned back.  We stopped for a little rest until the white-out passed and soon made the summit.  Sandra, Kevin and I huddled behind a large boulder for a short while, breathed in our accomplishment, and then slid down the mountain in 1/10th the time it took to climb it.   

A few weeks later, a large group of students from Forestry Camp headed out to the coast near Eureka to camp amongst redwood giants.  We had a fabulous weekend.  Our good friends Lauren and Julie, Sandra and I snuck off on that Saturday afternoon to explore the river.  I remember literally rolling on the river's sandy banks and discussing how this was the ultimate natural "spa day".  We all thought we were in heaven amidst a beautiful sunny day, gigantic trees, singing birds, great friends.  I know Sandra went back to this place many times over the years.  I am so glad to have been there with her that once.   

When Forestry Camp ended, we all headed back to Berkeley for the fall semester.  Sandra somehow talked the powers-that-be into allowing her to borrow the old yellow van she had driven students around in all summer.  Sandra, Lauren, Julie and I loaded our bags into the van and set off on our last adventure of the summer.  We were reluctant to leave the northern Californian forests behind, so we spent a few days camping alongside rivers, swimming in pristine lakes, hiking through forests.   

Once back in Berkeley, Sandra and I continued our close friendship.  Sandra joined my family in San Francisco for Thanksgiving that year.  The next day, we took off for Death Valley to explore the sand dunes and the canyons.  It was such an amazing place to visit, a spiritual awakening.   

I graduated that year and left for Ireland.  By the time I returned to the Bay Area, Sandra had moved.  We kept in touch throughout the years and met whenever we could.  We shared many hikes and lengthy conversations in the San Francisco Bay Area over the years.

Sandra was a special soul, filled with a particular zest for life.  She was open, honest, energetic, positive, and loving.  I am so glad to have gotten to know her during her time on earth.  She has definitely enriched my soul.  Her enthusiasm for life was contagious.  Long before she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was an inspiration, infecting those around her with her passion for living.  Her strength and tenacity throughout her battle with disease was not unexpected.  I knew she would continue to live as she always had...with zeal.

Sandra's Clan Photos Videos Happy Ending In Her Memory