by Ken Rolheiser
I’ll love you forever I’ll like you for always

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.
Now, those are 18 beautiful words worth remembering for always. (Internet source)

For those who are not familiar with the story of Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever  published once upon a 1986, I’ll share Munsch’s brief explanation:

“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 theatre 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.”

Again, as an essayist I should stop my article here and let its profound message resonate with the reader. But there is much to say about love and life.

It is God’s gift to us that we are able to love, having first been loved by God; then in creation, by our parents. And later, by family members, friends and sweethearts. The magic 18 words apply equally well in all of these social relationships.

A couple of on-line comments about Munsch’s story are emotionally wringing:

I just remember my mom reading this story to me as a kid. It hurts so much to know I’m going to lose her one day. Make sure you tell everyone you care for you love them every chance you get.

This was my favourite book, and when the time came, it was me holding the mom that couldn't remember my name but I will love you forever.

I cry so hard every time I read this book, I remember reading it when I was 8 and I am now 18. Time sure does fly. (from a young man)

The love of husband and wife survives longer than physical health. Sometimes it’s the one still loving the other whose health has gone, whose memory has gone, whose ability to communicate has gone. But, As long as I’m living / my baby you’ll be.

Sometimes it’s the son or daughter who is left by the bedside of a parent, now wasted away by disease and illness. But, As long as I’m living / my baby you’ll be.

Sometimes it’s the couple who has lost a baby, as Munsch did, who remember the precious bond of love God has shared with them, even for so short a time who say, As long as I’m living / my baby you’ll be.

What heals the heart more than time and sorrow’s passing is the truth in the words “I’ll love you forever”. “I have loved you with an everlasting love, / so I am constant in my affection for you.” (Jeremiah 13:3). Here Yahweh proclaims his love for his people as he did earlier: “You will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Exodus 6:7)

(549 words)