Grab some tissues. You are going to need them.
Amy Krause Rosenthal, a best selling author of over 30 books, has penned a heart wrenching essay for The NY Times entitled “You May Want to Marry My Husband.”
At the age of 51 and with their third and last child just off to college, what should have been the beginning of the next chapter is instead, the final act. Amy is in the end stage of ovarian cancer and has very little time left.
On Sept. 5, 2015, her world fell apart. Believing that she was going to the emergency room for a case of appendicitis, she and her husband were shocked to learn that she had ovarian cancer. About life after receiving her diagnosis, she writes, “so many plans instantly went poof.” Cancer stripped her of her plans of travelling to Africa and Asia and dashed her dreams of writing residencies in India, Jakarta and Vancouver. It robbed her of a life of “more,” a hope she had once tattooed on the underside of her left forearm, in her daughter’s handwriting. All she was left with was the present moment.
While the essay is a poignant reminder that life is fleeting, it is, at its heart, a love story. It is a powerful testament to the love between a husband and a wife and the life that they shared. At the age of 24, they met, went for dinner and fell in love. She writes, “By the end of dinner, I knew I wanted to marry him. Jason? He knew a year later.”
The essay, written in the form of a personal ad, is truly a love letter to her husband.
“I have never been on Tinder, Bumble or eHarmony, but I’m going to create a general profile for Jason right here, based on my experience of coexisting in the same house with him for, like, 9490 days.”
She extols his many virtues: his appearance and physique; his penchant for dressing well and fancy socks; his love of cooking and live music; his talent as a painter, pancake flipper and a father. But it goes so much deeper than that. It speaks of a man who shows his love for his wife in a myriad of ways. Picking up groceries and making her dinner.
Giving her a mini-sculpture of a couple sitting on a bench to commemorate their beginning. Buying her her favorite gum balls, always colored, never white, as she doesn’t like the white ones.
Amy writes, “He showed up at our first pregnancy ultrasound with flowers. This is a man who, because he is always up early, surprises me every Sunday morning by making some kind of oddball smiley face out of items near the coffee pot: a spoon, a mug, a banana.” Can we all just take a moment to swoon?
She does go on to explain why she is writing the ad, while at the same time wishing she had more time with her husband and children, more time to sip martinis and listen to Jazz.
“I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet. So why am I doing this? I am wrapping this up on Valentine’s Day, and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins.”
She finishes the piece with a blank space and the words, “I’ll leave this intentional empty space below as a way of giving you two the fresh start you deserve.”
Cue the tears (if you’re not crying already). Amy gives Jason quite possibly the greatest gift she could. The reassurance that when the time is right, it is okay to move on. To have a fresh start. To find love again. To live.
When I finish writing this, I am going to call my husband. While we tell each other often, “I love you,” I am feeling an overwhelming urge to tell him again. If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to wrap your arms around someone you love, send a text, pick up the phone. Whisper “I love you.” While we all know that life is finite, sometimes we could use a little reminder and I can’t think of a greater reminder than the one you have just read.