Amy Krouse Rosenthal is an author of children’s books, novels and a memoir called Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. In a new piece for the New York Times Modern Love column, she writes movingly about who she’s shared her “ordinary” life with, because she’s leaving him soon.
Rosenthal reveals that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015 after going to see the doctor about a persistent pain in her side that she thought was appendicitis. She says the diagnosis coincided with her third child leaving for college, a time when she and her husband Jason had planned to start traveling and applying for fellowships and writer’s residencies—the kinds of things she thought she’d be free to do now that parenting wasn’t the immediate, everyday focus. “No wonder the word cancer and cancel look so similar,” Rosenthal writes.
But the purpose of her essay is to introduce her husband, Jason. Rosenthal says she knew she was going to marry Jason the first day she met him, on a blind date her father’s best friend set her up on. She says it took him about a year to know the same thing, and now they’ve been together for two and half decades. She writes, “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, 9,490 days.”
What follows is a list of all the things that Rosenthal loves about her husband, the sort of list that most people could make about someone they care for, details that add up to a shared life. Rosenthal mentions her husband’s taste in clothes, his cooking, the way he enjoys live music, his artwork, his collection of tiny objects like “taster spoons, little jars, a mini-sculpture of a couple sitting on a bench, which he presented to me as a reminder of how our family began.”
Rosenthal has a tattoo of the word “more” on her forearm; she says it helps her explain why she’s writing this essay for Jason:
I want more time with Jason. I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights. But that is not going to happen. I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet. So why I am 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.
I’ll leave this intentional empty space below as a way of giving you two the fresh start you deserve.
The column leaves an actual gap for a theoretical someone to start their journey with her husband. Then she signs off, “With all my love, Amy.”
You can and should read the entire essay here.