The Heartbreaking Truth Behind “Love You Forever”

If you were born around 1986 or the years following, or have children with such birthdays, you might be familiar with the children’s book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. The book is a classic among the late 80s and early 90s children and has maintained popularity in more recent years. It is a simple and adorable story book. This bed time story chronicles the life of a young boy. Each night his mom rocks him to sleep softly singing him a song.  As he gets into mischief , growing bigger year after year, her song and her love remain the same. It’s a relatable story of the journey of childhood. At each new chapter of his life his mom holds him and sings “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”   At surface level its an adorable depiction of a mother’s unconditional love.  That would be enough for a good children’s book.

There is so much more to the story. Earlier this year the author, Robert Munsch reviled the true basis for the song in the book. Munsch explains that he wrote this simple little song to himself as a natural response to tragedy in his life. As they were trying to build a family, Munsch’s wife delivered two stillborn children. Heartbroken and hurting, he found comfort in the simple words of the short song, promising to always love the children he didn’t get the chance to know. Munsch explains:

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.

Later, the words to his song would naturally take shape into a storybook about what would have been. What would have been had he had the opportunity to raise those children. The book takes on new meaning with news of its true inspiration. Munich and his wife went on to adopt three children. Maybe this book will give new meaning and hope to families with similar tragedies.