I’ll Love You Forever & Until We Meet Again

This Sunday, March 28th, marks two years since my son Gabriel died. Unlike others whose loved ones have passed from this earth, I use the straightforward terminology. “Early departure to heaven” is one description I read recently. I think this person must not have seen their loved one’s body after the spirit left it, because if they had, they’d know it was dead and not just dearly departed.

Anyway, it’s been two years and nothing really gets easier. I still feel as if I’m living in a fun-house surrounded by mirrors that distort reality. Or that reality is veiled. I see the sun; I feel it’s warmth; but I don’t fully inhabit the planet that rotates around it. It’s a strange way to live, which is why working a lot helps. There’s little time or brain power for thinking about such things.

Last week, as I was going through my cloaked, surreal existence, I needed to find a book for an article I was writing. I tore open box after box in my backyard shed and collected a pile that did not include the one I was looking for, but that did include one that transported me back to life lived in real time and space.

It’s called Love You Forever and was written by Robert Munsch. The story begins with the birth of a child. His mother sings him a lullaby until long after he is grown, and then he turns it around and sings it to her when she gets old. It’s a promise to always be there for each other. This particular copy was a 2004 Christmas gift from Gabe to me. Inside the cover, he wrote these words:

Mom, this book always reminds me of you. I love it that you would take time to read to Mike & me all the time. I will never forget the way you sang the song. I was in 5th grade when the teacher read this to us. She sang it all wrong! Online you could buy the read-along tape with the way the song should sound. I’ll bet it’s all nice & perfect, but I don’t ever want to hear that. Your version is perfect for me. I am not sure which section I’m on, but I think Mike is at the one about being a crazy teen. Don’t worry though, eventually we will get to the age when we sneak to your house & take care of you. …

I’ve been carrying this book around the house like it’s my blankie. Jeff asked me if it’s my new bedtime reading. “No,” I said, “I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about it.” The truth is, I do want to hug it to myself and never let it go, or at least stick it under my mattress so it’s always close, because it reminds me of a time when life made a little bit of sense. When my baby was mentally and emotionally healthy. When he took the idea of a long life for granted.

Gabe’s brother chose a copy of this book from amongst all of Gabe’s possessions to be buried with him because the memory of it meant something to both of them. It means something to me too. It transports me out of the distorted fun-house and into reality.

Gabe, I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. … And then we’ll meet again. xoxo

24 Comments on “I’ll Love You Forever & Until We Meet Again

  1. My heart aches for you, Chris…
    Praying for you and your family

  2. Thanks Marilyn. Blessings~

  3. Thanks for sharing your heart and for this beautiful post. Munsch’s book has long been a favorite of mine, and one I, too, sang to my baby who is now nearly 15. Your son’s words to you were so lovely. I’m so, so, sorry, that he is not with you all in a strong, physical sense.

  4. Can’t come up with any words that will help.

    So I will pray. Connie too.

    God bless you.

  5. Thanks Mark. We had a very busy weekend, which helped. Had a great time at the baby shower last weekend too. Blessings~

  6. Thanks Christine. I remember hearing Rosie O’Donnell say she thought it was a horrible book, but I’ve always loved it so I’m always glad to hear others do too. I received it as a gift when my boys were little. Blessings and thanks for commenting.

  7. The OCO is praying for your family as we remember Gabe this week. Blessings to you, Christine.

  8. Thanks Sue. We appreciate it. Blessings to you and the folks at the Wheaton College Office of Christian Outreach too.~

  9. People who haven’t lost someone so dear think that time will heal but I maintain that time only serves as a reminder of all the life that Gabe has missed & that you have missed with him. We were never designed for separation. May God’s spirit comfort you. I, too, love this book.

  10. Thanks Karen. I agree with you. We weren’t designed for separation. I’m grateful to Scot McKnight for introducing me to your wonderful work. I really need to get myself a copy of your book, Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? I didn’t grow up in one or give birth in one, but I did start out married life in a beat up single-wide : )

  11. Christine, all three of my boys learned this song in Kindergarten — and the combined classes sing it for the Mother’s Day “tea”…and I am grateful that you have this precious reminder of better days.

    Right now I’m seeing God as Heavenly Mother (think “The Shack”) in a big old rocking chair on the porch singing this song with Gabe…biding their time…enveloped in their end of the mystery.

    Love to you, sister…

  12. Thanks Peggy. What a lovely Mother’s Day gift and what a beautiful image. I’m going to hold on to that one for a while, even though I didn’t read The Shack. Love to you too.~

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  14. Christine, thanks for this post. It was good to talk with you earlier in the week.

    As for me, I can’t read that book. Unless I’m look for catharsis. (I suppose that might be the effect you’re looking for?) It doesn’t take much for me to be disabled by catharsis, though. Last week we say How To Train Your Dragon and it kind of messed me up for awhile. I’m not kidding.

    We’re praying for you, Christine.

  15. Thanks L.L. Sometimes that’s the best thing. Much love to you.

  16. Hi Marcus. It was good to talk to you too, as always.
    As to the book, it was a gift that hooked us early in our family life, and I wasn’t looking for it last week, but it actually helped me because, as I wrote, it reminded me that there was a time when life was good for all of us, and it hasn’t been that in several years. I understand in a metaphysical sense that life is good, but it hasn’t felt that way in a long time so we go on faith and prior experience to get us through the dark times. See you in September. Can’t wait!

  17. Christine, you always write so beautifully and I identify with your words about living in a veiled reality and surreal existence after the tragic death of a loved one. Nothing is ever the same. My heart aches for your loss of Gabe.
    I love that book “Love You Forever” and have owned it for years. I recently gave a copy to my daughter-in-law. So poignant and touching. Also, such sweet words Gabe wrote to you inside.

    Take care and God bless you!

  18. Thanks Sue. I like the way you put that: living in a veiled reality & surreal existence. Some days feel normal, and then there are others … Blessings~

  19. Hello everyone. Gabe is and always will be my best friend. I just found out that he has passed tonight. I tried years of contacting him after I got back from the Marines. He was a true friend. We had so much fun when we were in band and hanging out at his house. I always remember us singing I E U Killer Tofu every time his mom cooked. It was a joke he and i loved doing. It was great. I have all our picture’s from marching band, us being at Yankee stadium and the Ticker Tape parade. I’ll always miss the best friend anyone can have, my best friend Gabe.

  20. Hi Terrance,

    Thanks so much for writing. Jeff and I are glad to hear you are safely back from the Marines. We’re glad to hear how much Gabe meant to you as well. We’ll never forget how you reached out to him when he first returned to public school after homeschooling for three years. We always enjoyed having you in our home. I hope all is well with you. Many blessings, Christine

  21. Christine-

    I didn’t see this when you first posted it. Only today, as I clicked over from The High Calling.

    That book is a family favorite. I give it as a gift at baby showers. My husband had a woman read it in church one Sunday before the sermon. It’s beautiful.

    And the image of you carrying that book around with you makes perfect sense. We hold what we can when there’s nothing else. Oh, how I wish I could sit with you next month beside the Frio and have you tell me stories about Gabe.

  22. Thanks so much Deidra, I do too. Another time. If the absence of him has taught me anything it’s the patience to wait for the day when faith will be sight.