Dying woman seeks a new wife for her husband of 26 years

Award-winning author Amy Krouse Rosenthal writes her most beautiful (and heartbreaking) piece of work yet: a dating profile for her husband.

Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Brooke Hummer Photography

When popular author Amy Krouse Rosenthal, wrote an essay for the New York Times announcing her terminal ovarian cancer, she was facing a very tough, self-imposed deadline, stating: “I need to say this (and say it right) while I have a) your attention, and b) a pulse.”

Although she was concerned that her usual “prose prowess” would lack oomph due to her prescribed morphine and a lack of solid food, the Chicago-based writer needn’t have worried. Her essay is a graceful and humble tale that captures the beauty of marriage—she describes her own as a fairy tale marriage: “except for all of the regular stuff that comes from two and a half decades of playing house together. And the part about me getting cancer. Blech.” And the tragedy of knowing that it will end way too soon.

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Just 18 months ago, in September 2015, Rosenthal and her husband, Jason, thought their biggest challenge was preparing for an empty nest, with the last of their three children heading off to college. But when a case of suspected appendicitis sent Rosenthal to the hospital, she was given the devastating news that she had ovarian cancer … and all those best-laid plans of trips abroad and writers’ residencies were abandoned. As Rosenthal quips: “No wonder the word cancer and cancel look so similar.”

For the first months, the couple coped by adopting a “Plan Be,” outlook: to live in and for the present. But now, with limited time left, Rosenthal is looking to the future—specifically her husband’s because it is a future she’ll no longer be a part of. “[He’s] an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day,” she writes in her essay entitled: “You May Want to Marry My Husband.”

This is a man who emerges from the minimart and says, ‘Give me your palm.’ And, voilà, a colorful gumball appears.”

She shares how the couple first met on a blind date, set up by a close family friend who knew the pair individually. By the end of the meal “I knew I wanted to marry him,” Rosenthal says unabashedly. Even if Jason would take a year to feel the same. And it is this deep love for her husband that has driven her to try and find someone else to love him; a man she says is a “sharp dresser … [who] has a flair for fabulous socks”.

A new 1,2,3 list posted daily at 1:23pm = #project123. Goal is 123 days. Today is day 56.

A post shared by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (@missamykr) on

It’s enough to make you laugh, or cry, or both. Because who better than a loving wife to write the perfect, honest dating profile?

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Her description goes on to mention his salt and peppered hair, handsome features, and how she’ll “miss looking at that face of his.” But she doesn’t linger on the physical: Rosenthal quickly reveals the more important qualities to admire about him: a love of music, and his cooking skills. “After a long day, there is no sweeter joy than seeing him walk in the door, plop a grocery bag down on the counter, and woo me with olives and some yummy cheese he has procured before he gets to work on the evening’s meal.” She also highlights his compassion and thoughtfulness: “This is a man who emerges from the minimart or gas station and says, “Give me your palm.” And, voilà, a colorful gum ball appears.”

I hope the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins.”

The over-whelming love Rosenthal feels for her husband is heightened by their limited time together; as she says, “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.” Her own desire for “more” makes the search for a new wife for Jason all the more bittersweet and impressive: one of the hardest lessons we learn is to sacrifice our own desires for the good of others.

Although weak, Rosenthal managed to finish the essay in time for Valentine’s Day, saying “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.” And what gift could be more romantic, selfless, and beautiful? To give Jason the gift of being able to love again.

Yet her gift is more far-reaching than she could ever have imagined: This poignant and deeply heart-breaking essay demonstrates love to everyone who reads it. Specifically the kind of love that marriage creates: a unique bond of experiences and emotions that should never be taken for granted.

To read Rosenthal’s full essay, click here.

Cerith Gardiner
Cerith Gardiner

Cerith Gardiner was born in London and has been living in Paris for 14 years. She spends her time working as an English consultant, acting as taxi driver to her four children, and wondering if she’ll ever be as stylish as the French.

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