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The monster at the end

I’ve always loved Little Golden Books. The kittens are wild with sunshine, the elephants are saggy, and the strawberry shortcake fed puppies are pokey. The wholesome and sweetly illustrated classics look very Vegas when grouped in a stack on my kids’ bookshelves. The spines gleam gaudily but grab their attention.

groverOne title I want to add to my kids’ library is The Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone. It was one of my favorites as a child. Grover is the terrified and clueless star of the story as he tries to prevent the reader from reaching the end of the book because there is a monster lurking there. He nails the pages shut, ties them with ropes, builds a brick wall, wails, shrieks, and begs the reader to not turn the next page. Every page brings the reader closer to the end of the book, which spells certain doom in Grover’s view.

The last page is next. Grover is a puddle, a worthless bag of blue fuzz. His imagination, his worry, his fear has conquered him and there is nothing more he can do than scream. The reader turns the page, revealing the monster.

It is Grover.

Oops, ha ha. The monster created by Grover’s dread and fearful anticipation is imaginary. There was never anything to fear.

When I first found out I was pregnant again, this book popped into my head. I looked at the months ahead as pages I could either try to nail shut out of fear for what was at the end, or I could let the pages turn freely. Every pregnancy ends, but not every pregnancy results in blessed relief and joy. To those of us who are intimately acquainted with the other side of ending, it is easy to assume it will happen again. Each page turns, each milestone flies by but we find ourselves not relaxing. We feel like the stakes are a little higher. I’ve felt the baby move and if the worst happens now, I will forever feel those sensations in phantom form.

There is no monster at the end, however. I am the one creating the fear, the dread, the worries. I am the one mixing the cement and building the brick wall. It is futile and ridiculous because the smallest sigh at midnight is a wrecking ball. Down tumbles the wall, out pop the nails. I try ropes and steel-riveted barriers. Tomorrow comes.

So, what if there is a monster at the end of this book? What will it look like?

It could rip me apart limb-from-limb. It could devour me, bury me, carry me away.

I pretend I would stare it down and study it, invite it to dinner and then excuse myself to the washroom where I shimmy out the window, leaving it with the check. I’d spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder. Maybe I would try to wrestle it to the ground and use some of my page-tying rope to bind the hairy arms. But I’d have to go back regularly and make sure the knots were still tight.

Maybe, when I get there, the monster will simply be me. I will realize how unfair it was to rob myself of the joy of the moment, the peace that comes when I rest in my Father’s arms.

As I anticipate the future, this book keeps popping up in my memories and I think it is no accident. I have been the fearfully pleading Grover begging for mercy from the monster at the end. Even as a child I readily understood what an idiot he was being—his own worst enemy.

No matter what the future holds, I can be kind to myself and my unborn baby this minute, this hour, this day by not picking up my hammer. Someday this baby may sit in my lap as I read the story to him or her. Silly Grover! he or she might say.

Silly, indeed.

24 comments to The monster at the end

  • Okay, this was one of my children’s favorite books. I used to read it in my best Grover voice for them and they would giggle and giggle trying to turn the pages fast.

    And maybe that is what we should do in real life. Go ahead, flip the pages, look forward to and anticipate the supposed monster at the end. And we too, can see that there really is nothing to fear. But I so understand where you are right now.

  • Mopsy,

    I just want you to know I’m praying for you. I know you must be anxious, considering last year. This post was a beautiful analogy. You are such a gifted writer and have such a way at expressing your fears, joys, anxieties and pleasures. I truly enjoy stopping by here and reading from your heart.

    God bless you.

  • JKS

    I LOVED this book!!! I, too, am worried about a supposed “monster”: my 1 year check up after tyroid cancer. Let the pages turn…let them turn… I’m ready for it!

  • I remember that book.
    Beautifully written Mopsy and so true. Isn’t it neat how God uses ordinary things to teach us something amazing? He even uses blue Muppets.

    (I think I have some serious things to learn from cookie monster…..)

  • This was one of my favorite books as a child, but I had completely forgotten about it until I read your post.

    And what a powerful post it was, as per your usual. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be waiting for the monster at the end of the book, having already met such a horrible beast, twice. I know when I was pregnant (a completly normal, healthy, easy pregnancy) I still felt like Grover, afraid of what might happen.

    Good for you for recognizing the monster, and doing what you can to meet him head on and get over that fear, as understandable as it may be.

    My prayers are with you and your sweet baby. I am glad you’ve felt the first flutters.


  • mopsy

    JKS—I wish you all the best at your check up!

  • We have read this book in our family, too! The kids think it’s hilarious. I’ve never thought of it connected with life in such a profound way before. You have such a way with associating a deeper meaning with everyday things, Mopsy. I always appreciate your insights.

  • You have such a gift of being able to live in the moment and to see the extraordinary in ordinary things. I hope that you will let the pages of this pregnancy turn freely, and I’ll pray for the happy ending.

  • I did not know such a book existed. However, I do know the feelings. I, too lost a baby and then went on to have another. In fact, in August, she would have been turning 8. This is beautifully written and very profound, I will be contemplating this for awhile. It has helped me, even after all these years.

  • Just found you through Mel’s site and really enjoyed your thoughtful post. I was going to add you to my blog reader, but when I click on your RSS Feed link, I get an error message. Is it malfunctioning?

  • mopsy

    SMIT—I have no clue what to do with my RSS feed. It has never worked well. I don’t know what to do with it—it could be a WordPress issue, but it is probably just my ineptitude. Sorry. I hope it doesn’t keep you away.

  • Ahhh! I love this book! Had totally forgotten about it!

  • Gem

    Praying for you, Mopsy. We’re in the ‘should we try again’ stage — this pregnancy was a big surprise, so now to actually plan another one at our ages (38 & 44) seems a little weird. But I was just getting used to the idea of a fourth child. We’re praying about it. I pray for you that now, 10 days later, you have some good news.

  • Wonderful post. I had that book. Praying all is well
    Mary, mom to many

  • Ah! That was one of my very favorite books as a child as well. I used to read it to my older daughter (with a silly Grover voice) when she was a tot.

    Wonderful post – congrats on the award!

  • Suzanne Balvanz

    I can TOTALLY see why Mary gave you the award. I intend to mark your blog and check back with you.
    You’re way too cool not to keep track of. (And I mean “cool” in a real way)


  • I loved the book and I loved this post. Just beautiful. Congrats on your Perfect Post Award!

  • Lei

    Wow – how real and true our fears can be… how easily they can determine outcomes. Thank you for your post. A good reminder that we should always embrace the moment and live IN it.

  • Sometimes it is hard to not feel like Grover. I loved your words. They are so honest and revealing.

    Best of luck and congrats on your much deserved award!

  • Lovely blog, adorable kids, great post!

  • Wonderful post! I am not familiar with the book. I think I will get it though!

  • mopsy

    Thanks to everyone for the nice comments and encouragement. I know I am not alone in feeling this way, unfortunately. The support of other women who have been in these shoes is especially welcome.

  • I always read that book to my oldest when he was small. He loved it but I found it hard to read. Hmmm wonder why? Nice post. God bless your babe.

  • andrea

    i just wrote to tell you… that i have this book in spanish and it was my first book… well the first one that i read compleatley when I was learning… i loved it! thank you!

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