As she was dying of ovarian cancer last year, author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote a wrenching essay for The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column, creating what she called a “general profile” for her husband Jason to begin dating.
Rosenthal wrote that she was “facing a deadline, in this case, a pressing one. I need to say this (and say it right) while I have a) your attention, and b) a pulse.”
What followed was a dating profile and a love letter.
“He is an easy man to fall in love with,” she said of her husband of 26 years. “I did it in one day.”
Days after the Times published the essay in March 2017, Rosenthal died at age 51.
In honor of Father’s Day, Jason Rosenthal has written his own essay for the column, recounting lessons he has learned in the year since his wife’s death.
“I am that guy,” he began in the essay, “My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me,” published Friday. He said he received countless letters from women around the world in response to his wife’s essay, which gave him “solace and even laughter” after her death.
Many women took Amy up on her offer, sending me a range of messages — overly forward, funny, wise, moving, sincere. In a six-page handwritten letter, one woman marketed her automotive knowledge, apparently in an effort to woo me: “I do know how to check the radiator in the vehicle to see if it may need a tad of water before the engine blows up.
While I do not know much about reality TV, there was also this touching letter submitted by the child of a single mother, who wrote: “I’d like to submit an application for my mom, like friends and family can do for participants on ‘The Bachelor.’”
Rosenthal wrote that Amy’s greatest legacy was teaching him to value the opportunity for “a new future,” and through her essay, connect with others dealing with grief.
“One thing I have come to understand, though, is what a gift Amy gave me by emphasizing that I had a long life to fill with joy, happiness and love. Her edict to fill my own empty space with a new story has given me permission to make the most out of my remaining time on this planet,” he wrote.
“The cruelest irony of my life is that it took me losing my best friend, my wife of 26 years and the mother of my three children, to truly appreciate each and every day. I know that sounds like a cliché, and it is, but it’s true.”
The essay ends with a nod to Amy’s original piece — a fitting tribute.