Book Review: “Love you Forever.” Or more ACCURATELY, “Love You for a Limited Time Because I Am Going to Die.”

Book Review: “Love you Forever.” Or more ACCURATELY, “Love You for a Limited Time Because I Am Going to Die.”

“Love You Forever” by by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw.

“I love you forever…As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be,” or

“As long as I’m living, your or your mommy I’ll be.”

This line, or something close to this, is repeated on every page.  This phrasing sounds to me like it REALLY SAYS, “I will love you forever. . . Well, not REALLY FOREVER but at least until I die. Until I die I will love you and we will be baby and mommy and I WISH it was forever but I WILL DIE so our love and our close relationship WILL END.  But until then I love you SO much.”

The story line reinforces this showing a timeline beginning with a young mother singing this to her son throughout his life.  Eventually the son grows up and lives in his own house with his own baby. At the end the mother is elderly. The son drives to his elderly mom’s house, creeping into her room and singing a version of the song to his mom.  I don’t remember the exact words and can’t look it up because I hid my copy at the top of my bookshelf so that my kids don’t ask me to read it to them.  The language is there, of course, referring to someone’s “as long as I’m living” finite life period. In the context of his visit to his mother I find it implied that she is dying or it is a reminder that she is old and will die.  After that, the man goes home and sings the song to his baby.

To me, this story portrays a heartbreaking love between parent and child. EVERY TIME this deep love and parent-child love relationship is mentioned there is always the limiting condition that this love and bond lasts for a finite time period, “as long as I’m living.”

This book triggers DEEP feelings of sadness in me and causes me to think about dying and leaving my kids motherless and of losing my loved ones to death.  Death is the final and permanent separation between all loved ones and lasts much longer than our brief lives on this earth.

Every time I’ve tried to read it to a kid I end up bawling and the kid ends up crying too.  Actually, every time I’ve read it to anyone I cry and the other person usually starts crying, too.

I read it to my spouse.  “Look how sad this book is! Let me read it to you!” I said.  As I read, tears started STREAMING down my face. Seeing me look so heartbroken caused my stoic spouse to cry and he asked me to please stop reading it.

The BIG problem with the book is this.  The refrain, repeated on every page, goes something like this, “As Long as I’m Living…my baby you will be (or your mommy I’ll be?).”  It doesn’t really matter about the second part of the phrase, the loving sentiment, because it is conditional on the first part…”As Long As I’m Living….”

I love my kids.  I don’t tell them, “I love you so much but every time BEFORE I tell you this I MUST POINT OUT: THIS LOVE WILL EXPIRE!  This loving feeling and our familial relationship is a LIMITED TIME OFFER. GET IT WHILE IT’S HOT!”

Every time “As Long As I’m Living. . .” is chanted I hear the corollary “I may be alive now but I AM going to die.  As guaranteed as my love for you, so is my death.”  Worse yet, “You won’t be my baby and I won’t by your mommy.  And I feel I must remind you of this every time I repeat this line and every time we read this book.”

Most kids are terrified of death and become scared at the thought of being temporarily separated from their parents and are even more scared by the concept of a parent’s death.  Some kids may hear this words and not hear the implied “death” concept but I promise you SOME KIDS WILL.  I do not recommend this book as a gift for ANYONE. Unless, of course, your goal is to emphasize the finite duration of love and relationship between close family members.  In that case, this book would be most appropriate.

As a kid “Love You Forever” would probably sound like this to me:”Sorry kids, life really sucks and we’re all gonna die.  Don’t worry I will PROBABLY die before you.  If you grow up to become parents one day YOU will probably die before your KIDS do . . . Of course, when you kiddos are parents your kids COULD DIE before you do and YOU KIDDOS could bite the dust before me!  Don’t worry about that for now.  You and I have no control over my or your death.  It could happen at any time.  So don’t worry about it.  At least know that I’ll love you and stick around as your parent for as long as I can…As long as I’m living!  Again, I have little control over the duration of that period.  But UNTIL the day of my or your sudden death . . . WE ARE GOLDEN!”

I would prefer the book’s song to sing “Forever and ever.”

“Forever and Ever Your Mommy I’ll Be, Forever and Ever My Baby You Will Be.” 

I will always be my child’s parent.  My parents will always be my parents and I will be their child even after they are no longer on this earth with me.  They are irreplaceable.  Their love for me goes with me wherever I go.

Likewise, I try to instill into my kids the gift of love and belonging.  I want them to know I love them now and forever.   In my heart I am and will always be their mother and they will always be my babies even when they are grown up.  I will love them every day of my life and beyond if that were possible.

I share with my kids that my grandparents live on in my heart and in my memories of their lives and of their love for my parents, me and for them.  My elders have passed down so much love and knowledge and my children will do the same for their loved one.  For me, this is forever love, or at least a love that continues beyond death and THIS is a truer way to teach kids and loved ones that we love them forever.

See this review and follow me on GoodReads.

 

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