Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Alexandra Fontenille stopped by her local Starbucks on a sunny Friday morning on the way to take her young daughters, Isabelle and Amelia, to daycare so she could go to yoga.
“I got into yoga two years ago. It’s truly changed my life,” she said. “I was in a really dark place at the time. My mom had passed away, and I was a new mother. I was just trying to find the balance of everything, and it really helped. It brought new life to me.”
Alexandra was just 24 when her mom, Jane, died of a brain aneurysm. She was completely unprepared for the sudden loss of her mother who, at 53, rode her bike every day and ate a mostly plant-based diet.
“It was pretty rough, being a new mom. You kind of come full circle with your parents or at least being a woman, with your mom especially. At that point, I was like, ‘This is when I need her the most,’” she said. “There's days where you question it and you're like, ‘This isn't fair,’ and you're just mad. But all you can do is just remember all the good times.”
Alexandra said her mother was the most caring, selfless, hard working person she’s ever known, the kind of woman who would buy groceries for those who couldn’t afford them and bring meals and water to the homeless.
“I just remember seeing her do kind things like that for strangers growing up, and it had such a big impact on me,” Alexandra said. “I try to be more selfless, I try to be the hardest worker in the room. She had so much compassion for other people. I strive to be like her every day.”
Plus, her mother never would have stood for the sadness to last too long.
“When we woke up in the morning or if we were not feeling good or we broke up with a boyfriend in high school and we were sad about it, my mom would say, ‘You need to get up, drink water, eat a healthy meal, and be active,’” Alexandra said. “That was her famous line. So, on the hard days, I would just remember that and live by it.”
– Jennifer Warnick