“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always…” The story behind Robert Munsch’s best-selling children’s story
By Rai Rojas
“Only he who suffers
can be the guide and healer
of the suffering.” – Thomas Mann
My six-year-old grandson loves to read almost as much as he loves being read to. So much so that if during the course of the day he commits a slight transgression the sure-fire way to get him back on track is to threaten to read him one less story later that night. It works every time.
A few years ago he asked me to come sit in the rocking chair in his room as his mom read to him before prayers and sleep, and of course I obliged. I’ll admit that I was only halfway paying attention when my daughter began reading Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever.”
The book starts off with a young mom rocking her baby and singing a song to him as he falls asleep.
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”
For the rest of his life, no matter his age, she always manages to find him in bed and—well–rock him to sleep.
I’ll also admit that I thought it was a little creepy; I mean at one point she’s climbing stairs to get into her adult child’s room to take him out of his bed to… rock him to sleep.
But the mom’s self-less devotion clearly resonated with my daughter, reading and repeating this verse to her son, because about half way through the story I realized that she was crying and on the verge of a sob.
She got out of bed, handed me the book and asked me to please finish reading it for the little dude – and I did. After she composed herself, she nuzzled in next to the boy and read the last two books of the night.
Now, several years later my daughter is finally at a point where she can read “Love you forever” to him without blubbering. Well, she was.
Last night she sent me a text with a link to the author’s web site with the words – “This is so horribly sad” written underneath.
And it was.
“On his web site Mr. Munsch explains the story behind his best-selling book.
“I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing.
“For a long time it was just a song, but one day, while telling stories at a big theater at the University of Guelph, it occurred to me that I might be able to make a story around the song.
“Out popped ‘Love You Forever’ pretty much the way it is in the book.”
I immediately thought of my friends who’ve lost babies at birth, or who have miscarried, and how some of them have grappled with that great loss.
But I also reflected of the countless women I’ve met who have also lost their children no less tragically to the once prevailing culture of death.
Some of these women have healed, some are still painfully engulfed in the process of mourning – but all have expressed a forever love for their children.
The pro-life movement aches with them and for them. We fight, on a daily basis, to protect the lives of the innocent children, but also because we know the harm and the damage that is suffered by our post-aborted sisters and mothers and daughters. We know all too well the devastation that is felt by women once they realize that they are in fact the mothers of dead children.
It’s a pain I can’t and won’t imagine – but it’s a pain made manifest by the narrative behind Mr. Munsch’s book.
My grandson has outgrown the story, and his little brother won’t be ready to hear it for another couple of years. But now that she knows the back-story it may be even more difficult for my daughter to read.
That may be true for many of us.