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Loving Forever

May we love, as we are loved.

It was a day when Janneke was home from school, and from my office, I could hear her giggling in her room. I had positioned her in bed while I worked on some emails. I set up a playlist from well-known Canadian storyteller Robert Munsch on the iPad. That morning, his expressive voice and playful audio presentation were evidently bringing Janneke great delight. As I went over to observe her, I heard the beginning of a personal favourite, Love You Forever. I stood there, letting the words fill the room and watched Janneke, as she also listened to the chorus within the story:

I’ll love you forever. 
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be

Seeing my disabled teen, lying in her bed and hearing Munsch eventually shift to a sillier tone with a new story, I reflected on how being a parent and caregiver has influenced my perspective of love and the idea of loving forever.

love in lessons

When I was a child, I believed love connected me to my parents. They cared for me, and told me they loved me. I didn’t question that. Love between friends meant invitations to birthday parties, spots saved on the school bus and divided snacks at recess. This love was questioned often, due to the fickleness of childhood loyalties. Falling in love was an entirely different kind of feeling, one with both a sense of vulnerability but also excitement. And that has led me to be grateful to share life with Ralph and learn more together about love as parents. 

In being a parent and caregiver, I am learning the importance of letting go of what I had determined for my children. Though there is value in supporting children as they develop aspirations, it became painfully evident with the births of Rachel and Janneke, both born with developmental concerns, that my own expectations for my children were just that – mine and not theirs. Loving them would require (and still does) a new frame of reference. Furthermore, over time, our older two children also began to stretch and grow in their own ways. 

the complexity of love

Loving children who can’t reciprocate in familiar ways but never question your ability to show up at all hours of the night to change the bedclothes is wonderful and exhausting. Loving children who grow into amazing adults and invite us to explore the world with them is amazing and humbling. 

Lately, I’ve leaned on Thomas Merton’s words from his work No Man Is an Island (68). This particular quote continues to both motivate and subdue me:

The beginning of this love [of God] is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them. 

May we love, as we are Loved.


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One Comment

  1. Reading this brings to mind a quote from Walter Inglis Anderson, a man who lived life in his own unique way. A man who was born and lived his life in Mississippi along the gulf coast.

    “There are some things that you can only do with love. You will know you have love when you do one of them.”

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