You Cannot Lose My Love

I had dinner with a friend a couple of weeks ago and the topic of parenting came up. He is single, never married, no children. Without mincing words, he told me he was glad he never married and that he had no desire for children whatsoever. His was a difficult childhood, complete with physical and sexual abuse. So for him, family was nothing short of awful and he’d no intention of creating one. My childhood was nothing like his, but I certainly understood his point of view. When I was younger I couldn’t have imagined myself as a parent and, unlike my siblings, it wasn’t really in my plans. My relationship with my mother was difficult at best, and I certainly didn’t want to recreate it. If that’s what parenting was destined to be for me, no thank you.


I first heard this song, You Cannot Lose My Love, by Sara Groves, at a women’s conference held at the beautiful retreat center Casa de Maria in Montecito, an event sponsored by Brentwood Presbyterian Church. I was 8 months pregnant with Esther. The speaker for the weekend was the Rev. Dr. Laura Robinson Harbert, an ordained Presbyterian minister, and Licensed Family Therapist. I’m not sure what the topic of the weekend was, but I’m certain Dr. Robinson was imparting as only she can the unceasing love God has for each of us. She played this song as a modern-day expression of that love: a song of assurance that this journey we’re on will surely be full of peaks and valleys, successes and failures, and yet, whatever we encounter, we cannot lose the love of our Creator.


I sat in the back row, near bursting with child, my heart filling with fear and unspeakable sorrow for the child I would soon deliver. I remember listening to the lyrics and thinking “No no no. I DID lose my mother’s love. It does not last. This is all a lie. My relationship with my daughter is destined for the same pain and sorrow. I have no idea how to do anything differently. I can’t do it. And I can’t go back now.” My silent tears turned into loud and embarrassing convulsions and I became inconsolable as the session ended. Like a sharply focused laser, Dr. Robinson came to me and wrapped her arms around me while I continued to sob and convulse. She asked me what was wrong, and after a minute or two I was only partially able to get words to this effect out of my mouth: “I’m afraid for my daughter. I’m afraid to be her mother. I’m not equipped to do this. I can’t do it. I don’t want to ruin her.” I’m not sure what she said to soothe me, but after a while, I calmed down. I can’t remember any other detail of that weekend from nearly 16 years ago. Only that Dr. Robinson threw her arms around me in love until I could see straight again.


Needless to say, the song stuck with me. Esther was born 3 weeks later, and everything changed. The truth of the message that weekend became crystal clear. There was no way on Earth or in Heaven that my daughter could lose my love. Not. A. Chance. It wasn’t even a decision I had to make. It was as true as the morning sunrise. Having Esther gave me a new perspective on my Creator’s love for me as well, and it is this that has been ultimately transformational. I am loved. Period.


A few years later, my mother developed dementia and in 2012 died of its complications. I was there with her on several occasions leading up to her death and was present when she died. I remember a significant visit with her in hospital. When I first came into the room, I sat down and held her hand. I asked if she knew who I was. She looked at me with the most pained and honest eyes and said “no.” I smiled at her and told her she was my mother and I was her daughter, Kay, her youngest. I then squeezed her hand and told her I loved her. She squeezed my hand even harder, and with a conviction I’d not experienced in her before said: “I love you, too.” The truth is, I think she always did. I think our hurts and our expectations and our human fallibility got in the way of our being able to live into that love here on earth, but my heart rests more easily these days believing I had never lost her love, just as Esther cannot lose mine.


Thinking back on the conversation with my friend, I can’t recall what my response was, except just to listen. Sometimes that’s all a friend needs. But I do wish I would’ve told him that having a child has been, for me, an opportunity to recreate a loving and psychologically healthy parent/child relationship, only this time I’m the parent, and by way of a lot of self-examination and mental health work, I created the capacity to do things differently – with love and respect for who my child is. There has been remarkable healing for the child still residing inside me; a refashioning of the parent/child milieu buried in my psyche. And as God has a fantastic sense of irony, my daughter has been the most remarkable conduit of healing for me. I had no idea parenting came with such a magnificent bonus.


I recorded You Cannot Lose My Love for Esther for her 13th birthday. She liked it. I think she’ll like it even more as she ages and if, perhaps, she becomes a mother herself.


You Cannot Lose My Love
By Sara Groves


You will lose your baby teeth.
At times, you’ll lose your faith in me.
You will lose a lot of things,
But you cannot lose my love.


You may lose your appetite,
Your guiding sense of wrong and right.
You may lose your will to fight,
But you cannot lose my love.


You will lose your confidence.
In times of trial, your common sense.
You may lose your innocence,
But you cannot lose my love.


Many things can be misplaced;
Your very memories be erased.
No matter what the time or space,
You cannot lose my love.


You cannot lose,
You cannot lose,
You cannot lose my love.


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