The things we get for free are the things we most take as granted, don't you think? Until the air around us becomes too dirty to breathe, we accept clean air as a given. We might pay a small fee for our water but we rarely worry about whether or not we are going to catch something deadly if we drink it. Sunshine, rain, shady trees - all a part of my normal day-to-day (well, maybe not the sunshine. I live in one of the least sunny cities in the entire US - Seattle gets more sunshine than we do).
For most of us growing up, we took our next meal as granted. Our parents might have known that things were a little dicey but they never let on to US that we were a couple of dollars away from hungry. We took our safety as given - no helmets, car seats or seatbelts for us! We never doubted that there'd be a roof over our heads, streetlights on the corner, or a school to attend. I'm not entirely sure how far I was into adulthood before I made the ultimate connections between wages, property, taxes, firemen and schools, but I think it might have been about the time I first owned a home at age 30.
We take grace as granted as well. We know those who love us will tolerate us, support us and forgive us. We know that love is a bond that can't be severed - until it is. Those of us who have been through divorce or the demise of a deep friendship or the fracture of a family relationship understand that tolerance has boundaries, support can become unsupportable, and love can be shattered beyond repair. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, domestic violence, infidelity, apathy - these are a few of the things that can take a relationship beyond the point of no return, be it spouse, parent, child, or friend.
Wait, what? Child? Of all of the relationships listed, giving up on a child is the hardest. What could a kid possible do for you to finally stop loving them? Certainly I can think of things that might make me choose to keep some distance ("Your cocaine habit means that you steal my computer every time you come to the house, so you can't come there anymore. Where can I meet you?"), and even some things that might mean separation (violence) but not much, if anything, that would stop me from feeling love for my child. And separation would be anguish.
For a child, the death of a parent means the loss of that safety net of unconditional love. It's why, whether seventeen or seventy-five, we take it very badly when a parent dies.
For me, the love of God feels like this. Like a Mother, anguished when I choose to separate myself, and like a Mother rejoicing when I'm home - it's the underlying safety net of my life, for which I am grateful.