The first time I read “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch to my children I burst into tears. For those of you that don’t know the story, it starts with a new mother who rocks her baby to sleep singing, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.” She continues to sneak into her son’s room every night, even after he’s an adult living in his own house. For some it seems a little creepy, but for me it knocked the wind out of me.
The Story Behind The Story
That was even before I heard the sad story behind that famous line which repeats throughout the book. Maybe before I knew, my heart just connected to the profound gratitude and love you feel as a mother. When I found out that the author wrote the line, which started in his head as lyrics to a sad kind of lullaby to his two stillborn children, it hit my heart even harder.
When my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, I knew I’d never stumble carefree into Motherhood. I knew it was going to be more like forcing myself to jump a gorge. I wanted desperately to be on the other side, in parenthood, but I knew it was going to require blind faith to overcome my fear.
I was reminded of the story when I ran into an elderly man at my doctor’s office the other day. He asked me how old my baby was. I answered, “She’s two.” Then he smiled and said, “My babies are grown and retired now.” Then he told me a little about their lives. He was in his 90s and he still referred to his children as his babies. Then I flashed on that famous line and it stirred that familiar pull in my heart.
I was also reminded of my father-in-law who passed away right after my oldest daughter turned one. To his very last day, he carried my husband’s tiny hospital bracelet in his wallet. I also flashed to my grandmother crying at my father’s wake. As much pain as I felt at that moment, I knew her pain was greater. I lost a father, but she lost a son.
It wasn’t till years later, that I would understand that losing a child is probably the worst pain you can go through. “I Love You Forever,” was born from that same pain.
The Anniversary of 9-11
I’m not sure what stirred all of this in me lately, but all of these feelings came to a head on the fifteenth anniversary of September 11th. Every person lost in the attacks was someone’s baby.
I’ll always remember 9-11 as the day we, as a nation, lost our innocence. We could no longer take our safety and our lives for guaranteed. We all lost a piece of ourselves that day.
I was talking to friends the other day and it’s amazing how we all remember exactly where we were when we heard the terrible news. To all those who lost loved ones on that terrible day we grieve with you. Each and every one of the nearly 3,000 men and women whose lives were cut short were someone’s babies.
For all the moms and dads who lost their children in the attacks on September 11, 2001, we’ll remember them with you and we’ll hold our own children a little bit tighter. As long as we’re living, our babies they’ll be.
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.