Amy Krause Rosenthal wrapped up a love letter to her husband, Jason, on Valentine’s Day. Writing through a haze of morphine and interrupted by micronaps that kept her nodding off mid-sentence, she spoke about wanting more time with Jason. Aware that she wasn’t going to get her wish, Amy wrote to leave Jason “the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift” she could hope for. She placed a personals ad for her husband in the Modern Love section of The New York Times and told readers “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” She said she hoped that the right person would read her essay, find Jason, and begin with him another love story. She spoke about her own love story with Jason in language suffused with life-affirming joy.
“He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day,” she wrote. By the end of their first blind-date dinner, she knew she wanted to marry him. “Jason? He knew a year later.”
Like the good writer she was, Amy provided specifics about the husband she wants you to marry. He is such a sharp dresser that their two young adult sons often borrow his clothes. Their 18-year-old daughter would rather go to a music concert with him than anyone else. He is compassionate and handsome and a good cook. He is a wonderful father. He showed up at their first pregnancy ultrasound with flowers. He paints, practices law and is a go-for-it travel companion.
The essay is much more than an appealing portrayal of an attractive man. It is a celebration of their family and life together for 25 years. Her first memoir, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, was written years before her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Amy wrote then about her view on living and dying.
“People are just dying everywhere, all the time, every which way,” she wrote. “What can the rest of us do but hold on for dear life.”
The life she lived was dear to Amy Krause Rosenthal. “After a long day, there is no greater joy than seeing him walk in the door, plop a bag of groceries down on the counter and woo me with olives and some yummy cheese he has procured before he gets to work on the evening meal,” she wrote.
She summed up their marriage: “If he sounds like a prince and our relationship seems like a fairy tale, it’s not too far off, except for all of the regular stuff that comes with two and a half decades of playing house together. And the part about me getting cancer. Blech.”
Amy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015, and she died at the age of 51 just 10 days after “You May Want to Marry My Husband” appeared March 3rd in The New York Times. The best-selling author who wrote more than 30 children’s books was also a filmmaker who made shorts and YouTube videos. She was a popular speaker who gave TED talks and provided radio commentary for NPR.