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It's Our Turn: A life without my mom

Leona Schneider, the author's mom, died March 11 from complications of dementia, congestive heart failure and other health issues. (Celeste Edenloff)

I was prepared for when my mom was going to die. She was sick and I had accepted it.

I knew I couldn't change it. I knew it was going to happen. I knew it was what was best for her. She was going to be in a better place. She would no longer be in pain. She would finally be at peace. And I knew she would once again become herself — free from the cruel, destructive and damaging effects of dementia, free of diabetes, free of all the other health issues that killed her.

I was prepared as I could be for her death.

I was not, however, prepared for what would happen afterward.

I was not prepared for a life without a mother, without MY mom.

I didn't know how bad the pain would be for me. I didn't know I would be so sad. I didn't know I wouldn't be able to control my feelings, that I would be so angry, so bitter.

I didn't know that the tears would come at the most inopportune times. I didn't know the tears would come so often. I didn't know the tears could continue. I thought they would stop after we buried her in the ground.

I didn't know I would become so jealous of the beautiful and close mother-daughter relationships around me. I didn't know I would actually feel hatred toward daughters whose mothers are still there for them, for the daughters who can talk to their mothers every single day.

I didn't know how annoyed and bent out of shape I would get by daughters who diss their mothers, the daughters who constantly complain about their mothers or who brush them off and don't make time for them. I didn't know I would feel like shaking or slapping those daughters who actually wish their mothers weren't around.

I didn't know that looking at photos of her would make my heart feel so full of love and make me beyond happy yet at the same time make my heart hurt and feel hollow, like a large chunk of it is missing.

I truly didn't know it was going to be this hard.

I didn't expect it to be so rough. I didn't expect to feel so alone.

I wasn't prepared for this; this life without her — Leona Marie Schneider — my beautiful, vivacious, loving, caring, sweet, stubborn, musically gifted, happy-go-lucky, boisterous mother.

On Tuesday, I went to visit her at St. Mary's Cemetery. I was sad and angry and I felt like screaming at the top of my lungs so loud that she could hear me all the way up in heaven. But I didn't. Instead I sobbed. I shook. I couldn't breathe and my chest felt like it was caving in. I bawled my eyes out so hard there was no makeup left on my eyes.

But it was what I needed. I stayed there for about an hour. I texted my sister-in-law, Vicki, who lost her mom in 2009 and who I knew would completely, utterly understand what I was feeling and what I am going through.

She said eventually it gets better, but that she still misses her mom, Lynn — my mother-in-law — every single day. She said it was like losing a piece of her soul and I have to agree with her, it is.

But she also told me that in time, I will heal. That, just like her, I will find the inner strength I need to cope. She believes I will find my inner strength.

And after talking to her and spending that time at the cemetery, letting it all out, I think I will too.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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