“Love You Forever” was released the year my sister was born as a love song to author Robert Munsch and his wife’s two stillborn babies. The graphics are dated by today’s standards, but the pages contain words so simple, so elegant, and yet so powerfully emotional that it amazes me they can be held between two flimsy boards.
I first heard “Love You Forever” in school. It must have been second grade. I did not think much of it, as I lived with my grandparents and, at the time, did not know where my mother was. I knew they loved me dearly, but they were my grandparents, and I could not connect to a story about a mother who loved her son so much that she would sing by his bedside each and every night.
When I was a young teenager, the book came to me again in the hands of my cousin, just a toddler at the time. I loved nothing more than to cuddle up with him and read, and he was more than happy to bring me a book. With that little child huddled up close to me, I began to connect with the words. The love I felt for that baby boy was only a fraction of what a mother would feel, I knew, and I could not imagine how a heart could get any larger.
“I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be”.
The story burrowed its way into my heart and the words etched themselves in my memory. My cousin grew up from a cuddly toddler, to a strong and feisty teenager. I grew from teenager to adult. I went to college. I found a career. I married. And, one-year-two-weeks ago, I became a mother.
I received two copies of “Love You Forever” as gifts during my pregnancy. Had no one purchased it for me, I would have purchased it myself. I read to my baby everyday, but “Love You Forever” is the hardest for me to read, because every time I try, my voice catches and tears prick the corners of my eyes. As a mother I now truly understand what Robert Munsch is saying. My heart overflows with a love for my son that makes my breath catch and my chest feel tight, especially during those quite moments in his bedroom when I hold him close to me and rock him back and forth and back and forth… Often, when I close my eyes and feel the warmth of his small body, I hear the refrain, “I’ll love you forever…” singing in my mind.