My Mother’s Strong Arms, Holding Me

My mom should be weak after caring for her mother until she died, caring for her father until he died, caring for her husband until he died. Her arms should have given out. But she keeps holding.

This past year and a half has been dedicated to my dad. Our intention every day was to make dad comfortable, loved, safe, excited, and held. For a year and a half, we have been holding my dad. From the initial diagnosis of brain cancer to the relentless treatments to the devastating results to the slipping out of this universe to the celebrating his life to the mourning his death, we have held our dad.

We continue to hold him every day. Sometimes holding him makes me feel less alone and sometimes my arms gets so tired that they feel the will give out. But I will continue to hold him because that is where he lives now. In my arms. In my brother’s arms. In my mom’s arms. My mom’s tired arms. My mom’s arms that have held my baby brother until he was old enough to walk and I hopped right into them. My mom’s arms that have held baskets of grass-stained laundry and bags of fresh ingredients to make ziti-bake before track meets. My mom’s arms that have held my crying head.

She walks to the cemetery on her own every day to see my dad. She isn’t afraid of the pain it will cause.

My mom should be weak and beaten down after a lifetime of a giving and a mountain of loss. My mom should be weak after caring for her mother until she died, caring for her father until he died, caring for her husband until he died. She stayed in bed with my father for 7 days straight while he was in a coma. She told him it was ok. She held him. She should be weak from watching her father and husband die in the same room. But she sleeps in that room. She gets up every morning and lives. She holds others who are in pain. She takes care of an entire house on her own. A house that once filled her mother, father, husband, son and daughter. None of which live there anymore. She cares for the house and the people who once lived there just the same. She remembers. She honors.

She is still my rock and source of comfort and identity. She brings me my beloved foods to NYC. She gets on a train by herself and makes her way through the hell of Penn Station and trudges with bags filled with goodies to my apartment and she cleans it. She makes my bed. She leaves me notes. My mom should be weak. Her arms should have given out. She should be held. But she keeps on holding. She holds tighter. She walks to the cemetery on her own every day to see my dad. She isn’t afraid of the pain it will cause. She doesn’t tell people she is ok. She is not afraid to be vulnerable. She is not afraid to be anything. She is fearless and strong and she should not be. She shouldn’t have to be. She should get to crash and to be weak and to be held. But instead, she fights on. She doesn’t get told how wonderful she is enough. There aren’t as many people as there once were to tell her that. But they know it as I know it. They know what an amazing woman they created, what an amazing woman he married, what an amazingly strong woman they love.

Some days I feel like I can’t carry on. Like I can’t get my exhausted body out of bed. Like I can’t possibly face the cruel universe that ripped my heart from me. So many days I wanna give up. Give in. Let my arms fall to my sides and surrender. But I think of my mom. I think of her arms. Of what she has endured and the battle she fights every fucking day. I think of her arms. And those arms lift me up. They get me out of bed. They give me the strength to stay in the war. They hold me. My mom continues to hold me. And I would’ve fallen long ago without her. Happy Mother’s Day, mom. You are amazing.

This article first appeared on the author Alyssa Limperis’s blog.

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