There is one book that makes me cry, every. single. time.
That book is Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.
On the surface, this book seems to be about a rowdy kid who makes a mess in the bathroom, because that’s the illustration shown on the cover.
But I can’t read the first page of this book without starting to get teary.
For Christmas, my sister and my brother-in-law gifted this book to my 2 year-old son.
It’s now June.
And guess what?
I hadn’t read it until today.
Why? Because I had an inkling that I would cry. I just didn’t know how much.
The last time I read this book was years ago. I don’t even know exactly how many years it’s been because I’ve lost count.
The funny thing is, I wanted to own this book even before I had kids. It’s one of my two top favorite children’s books ever written.
A few years back, I saw Love You Forever a couple of times in the book aisle at Walmart. Because I like this book so much, I would go over…look for it, hold it and practically stare at its cover. Weird, I know, but in retrospect, it’s a good thing that I didn’t dare to read it there and then. Can you imagine a weird lady bawling in the book aisle over a children’s book? Umm, no. I leafed through the book… but it was so briefly that in my mind just registered it as the right edges of some illustrations. Leafing it like this didn’t allow me to remember everything that happened in the book. It was just casual. Safe.
What’s even more strange is my memory sort of block this storyline, meaning that if two years ago, you would have asked me, “What is this book about?” I would have been able to tell you in very general terms but I wouldn’t have remembered everything in it that made/makes me cry. Perhaps this happens because life waits for me to read the book again at exactly the right moment in my life so that I can be touched. What caught me off guard this time, though, is that now I have a son and this story is about a mother and a son. So now, an emotional book has turned into a major tear-jerker.
The last time I heard the book was about a year ago.
I was in a family dynamic class when the instructor decided to read this book to us. (She could have chosen one of the many others we were talking about that day, but noooo she had to choose this one, didn’t she?).
As silly as it may seem, as soon as she started reading it, I couldn’t keep it together. I started bawling, right there and then in front of my other colleagues. You could hear two things: her reading and my snuffle.
Not pretty. Especially since the instructor acknowledged the fact that I was crying. I know it was obvious, but it was embarrassing to be the pink elephant in the room, and distract her own reading.
So having had that last interaction with the book, I didn’t think I could read this book to my son in an easy-breezy way because this book makes me think of him and I and just how much I love him. That was the aha moment that was basically preventing me from turning off the waterworks that day in class.
So today, I was actually going to play with my 2 year old son, when he gets that book that I had left in his section of the book-shelf (I don’t know why) and asked me to read it.
Thinking that I could be a “mature” mom reading a book to my son, I sat down on the floor and he stood next to me (even though he usually sits on my lap when I read to him) while I read the book.
And it happened, again.
I couldn’t get through the first page without choking up.
I made it to the second page.
Got to the third page and with every page I read I was struggling more and more.
I even laughed at one of the scenes just to try to oppress the overwhelming emotion and my undeniable need to cry.
I didn’t work, because before I knew it, I was crying, reading, holding back my snot, wiping my eyes to clear my vision, sooo much so that I held my son’s arm and said, “We’ll read it later, okay?”
But of course, he wouldn’t accept my cop-out as easily as I would have hoped because we always read books in their entirety.
So I continued reading.
My son asked me a couple of times, “Are you sad?” and I told him I was sad.
After I finished reading the book, barely holding it together, I relaxed a little, knowing that the book was over, and tuned into myself. I felt an obligation to explain to my son why I was in the state that I was in.
I told him that some of the reasons why this book makes me emotional are because:
- It’s a book about life
- It’s a book about how the people we love change, and grow and change some more both on the inside and on the outside.
- It’s about how a mom loves her son very much.
- I told him that this book reminded me of his grandma, and that grandma is my mother and that we live in two separate cities and I miss her sometimes.
- I told him that my brother had been in a play for a Mother’s Day play where he played the role of the son in some of the closing scenes and that the audience had really loved his performance and clapped for him. (And yes, I was in the audience and I cried then, too).
- I told him that this book touched my heart.
- I told him that it reminded me of how much I loved him.
And at the end of my explanation, I hugged him and I told him that I love him forever, I love him for always, as long as I’m living my baby he’ll be (just saying this is starting my eye waterworks again).
After this explanation, I got up and went to blow my nose.
After I did, I kept exploring why this book touches me in the way that it does.
I realized that some additional reasons why this book makes me cry is because:
- I’ve lost loved ones who have passed away. Most importantly, I’ve lost my grandmother who was like a mother to me and as I’ve said before in this blog, one of the two people who loved me unconditionally
- A year ago, I lost my best friend, who loved me like a daughter.
- I come from a dysfunctional family (but then again, most of the world does… although that certainly doesn’t make it better or more acceptable). So love is a huge deal for me. And so is the lack of it.
- My love languages are words of affirmation and touch… and the words and the illustrations in this book are just the thing that I wish I had always. To me, this book is the epitome of the unconditional love parents are capable of giving.
- I’ve had friends in my life who have come and gone.
- Mentors and teachers who have come and gone.
- People who’ve I’ve put on a pedestal and have fallen. And when they fall, it hurts me more than anybody.
And what I hate about life (and trust me, I don’t use the word “hate” often) is that:
- We can’t just take love and freeze it. In this moment. Forever.
- We can’t relive the best love moments of our life. We can recreate them, but things have changed from there to now. It literally is not the same.
- No matter how much we try to live in the present moment..our present moment is slipping away.
- Life is moving too fast, always… and I often feel that I’m not loving enough and I’m not treasuring as much as even I would like.
- I guess my greatest fear is not to be loved. Not because I’m clingy or codependent but because think about it! What if you were in this world with no love whatsoever? (I don’t even know if that’s possible… because love is everywhere but let’s pretend that it is possible, ok?)
Can you imagine?
Would life be as precious as it is now?
Not at all, right?
So again, these are all reasons why I talk about love, this topic that for so many seems like an airy-fairy topic, a topic waayyyy too large for anybody to even tryyy to talk about.
- But I talk about it because it matters. You can bet your life on the fact that it does!
- I talk about it because what you focus on expands and God knows we need love to expand.
- I talk about it because it scares me and we have to look our fear straight in the eyes
- I talk about it because it brings me joy and it lights me up.
This blog is called Love and Treasure, not because I’ve never experienced heartache, but because I’ve experienced more than my fair share. (If there is such a thing as fair share).
Don’t worry I didn’t traumatize my child. He’s a very empathetic little boy, anyway.
I saw this “mommy is crying incident” as a life lesson.
As a lesson that we shouldn’t feel ashamed of our feelings. And that even the most difficult things in life teach us something.
Hours after I had read him Love You Forever, (yes, I was pondering about what had happened for this long) I told my son that there are different types of books.
- There are books that are funny so they make you laugh.
- There are books that teach you things like the ABC’s.
- There are books that teach you how to cook, like Mayi Carles Life Is Messy Kitchen cookbook that I used to make him Lovemade granola this morning for breakfast.
- And there are books that are sad, that make you cry.
He understood. And he asked me, “Are you happy now?”
And I told him, “Yes, I’m happy now because you’re my son, and I’m your mom.” And I prepared him for a nap, holding him on my lap.
How about you?
- What book, movie or song touches your heart in such a profound way, that let’s be real, it makes you at least want to cry?
- Most importantly, Why do you conclude that it makes you feel this way?
And can I ask you for a favor?
Please don’t be one of those people who KNOWS which song, movie or book is like your Achilles’ heel, and you just don’t want to say it out loud.
Think about it, if someone every wanted to get back at you for anything you did to them, would they play that song, read you that book or play that movie for you?
So, don’t be shy. Or scared. Say it anyway. Find some comfort in the fact that I don’t think your confession will be much more revealing (or shall we say embarrassing) than the story stories I’ve just shared with you. 😉 But if it is, that’s okay. It’s all good. 🙂
And for less than a high-quality box of crayons and a coloring book, you can read this Love You Forever story and gift it to your children, especially those who are parents, no matter how old they are. It makes for a great Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gift. And if you are a parent and can’t expect anyone to buy it for you, buy it for yourself. Just remember to have some Kleenex handy. 😉