Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal was a best-selling writer of books for children and adults, but recently became known for a viral essay called “You May Want to Marry My Husband.” She died on March 13 at age 51 after a battle with ovarian cancer.
The famous March 3, 2017 essay was a dating profile for her husband, 52-year-old Jason Brian Rosenthal. The two met on a blind date in 1989 and were married for 26 years. She loved her husband so much that she did not want him to spend the rest of his life alone.
The couple also had three children together, Miles, Justin and Paris. The day after she was told she had cancer, Paris, her youngest child left for college.
Here’s a look at her inspiring life and career.
1. She Was Diagnosed With Ovarian Cancer After Seeing a Doctor for Pains in Her Right Side
In her Times essay, Rosenthal revealed that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on September 5, 2015. She went to the doctor for an unusual pain on her right side, which she first thought was because of appendicitis.
The next day, the couple arrived home, but they had to also deal with the sadness of their youngest child going off to college. And they also had to cancel several plans for trips.
“No trip with my husband and parents to South Africa. No reason, now, to apply for the Harvard Loeb Fellowship. No dream tour of Asia with my mother. No writers’ residencies at those wonderful schools in India, Vancouver, Jakarta,” she wrote. “No wonder the word cancer and cancel look so similar.”
Rosenthal’s agent and friend, Amy Rennert, confirmed Rosenthal’s death in a statement to People Magazine. Rennert said:
“Everything Amy did was life and love affirming. She was such a bright light with a great sense of wonder. Amy loved her family. She loved words, ideas, connections. She taught us that life’s seemingly small moments are not really small at all. Amy’s final essay, written under the most difficult of circumstances — a love letter to her husband Jason — was the ultimate gift to him and also to the rest of us.”
2. She Met Her Husband on a Blind Date
In the essay, Rosenthal described how she met Jason. They met on a blind date in Chicago, even though her father’s best friend knew the two of them their entire lives. They still never met until that date in 1989 when they were both 24. By the end of the dinner, she knew she wanted to marry him, but it took Jason a year to figure it out.
Her dating profile for her husband was based on being in the same house as him for “9,490 days,” according to her calculations. She listed several wonderful attributes he has and how wonderful a husband he has been for over two decades.
“Here is the kind of man Jason is: He showed up at our first pregnancy ultrasound with flowers,” she wrote. “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 coffeepot: a spoon, a mug, a banana.”
She ended the essay by explaining why she wrote it in the first place.
“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 wrote. “I’ll leave this intentional empty space below as a way of giving you two the fresh start you deserve.”
In an interview with People Magazine after her essay was published, Jason said he was “emotionally ripped apart.” He said he wasn’t aware of her plans to write a public dating profile for him.
“But I was with her as she labored through this process and I can tell you that writing the story was no easy task,” he told People. “When I read her words for the first time, I was shocked at the beauty, slightly surprised at the incredible prose given her condition and, of course, emotionally ripped apart.”
“I don’t have the same aptitude for the written word,” Jason told the magazine, “but if I did, I can assure you that my tale would be about the most epic love story… ours.”
3. Rosenthal Has Written Books for Children & Adults
Long before Rosenthal went viral, she was a best-selling author for books about children and books for children. According to her website, some of her children’s books include Your Birthday Book, Little Pea, Little Hoot, The OK Book, Duck! Rabbit! and Cookies: Bite Size Lessons of Love.
For adults, she’s written The Book of Eleven: An Itemized Collection of Brain Lint, The Same Phrase Describes My Marriage And My Breasts: Before The Kids, They Used To Be Such A Cute Couple and Mother’s Guide To The Meaning Of Life: What I’ve Learned On My Never Ending Quest To Become A Dalai Mama.
In 2016, she published her first memoir, Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She’s also published several journals, including 2015’s A Week In The Life of Me.
“I work hard and I work every day. I have my ritual. I always say that my PhD—I don’t have a real one—stands for ‘putting in the hours daily,'” Rosenthal told Publisher’s Weekly in 2009. “I don’t mind hard work and I love what I do. It’s a funny thing about this business. I have a job that leaves me with something tangible at the end, something to show for all the work. I like that.”
Although Rosenthal grew up in Chicago, she left for Boston to attend Tufts University. At first, she majored in French, but decided that it wouldn’t help her earn a living in Chicago. So, she decided to go into advertising, according to a Chicago Reader profile. Yes, surprisingly, she loved being a copywriter and thought she’d do it forever.
She then got a job at a San Francisco agency, but just couldn’t take the pressure. At first, she was planning to go to Europe, but she took a fateful stop at home along the way. Rosenthal got a job at an agency in Chicago, then went to Europe for two weeks. When she got home, she went on that blind date with Jason.
4. She Made Several Films Using her iPhone
When she wasn’t writing, Rosenthal was busy making her own short films, all of which she posted on YouTube. The films were usually made with her iPhone or a Flipcamera. She also posted animated versions of stories from her book Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.
A 2010 Chicago Magazine piece called her 17 things i made video a “masterpiece.” In it, she goes over 17 things she made, including her children.
But that wasn’t it. At the end, she invited people to go to Millennium Park on August 8, 2008 at 8:08 p.m. ET to help her make an 18th thing. Around 400 people showed up, including two people who fell in love at the gathering!
“I wish there was a word less obvious than ‘magical’ to describe that night,” Rosenthal says. “It was meaningful to everyone in some way.”
“Some label them social experiments, but I don’t have a grand agenda,” Rosenthal told Chicago Magazine. “I do what feels right to me. If it resonates or plants some seeds, great.”
5. For ‘Textbook,’ She Had Readers Text Her Their Good Luck Messages & She Sent Them Out to Sea
Rosenthal’s last big project turned out to be Textbook Amy Rosenthal. In the book, she told readers to text her good luck messages for themselves or others. Her plan was to gather them all on every January 1 and send them out to sea in bottles. Between August and December 2016, she received over 800 messages, which were printed out and put into six bottles. In January 2017, they threw the bottles into the ocean.
In a 2015 interview with Zulkey, Rosenthal’s family said that her readers love sending her stuff.
“Her life is not ordinary — that is the opposite of what I think of when I think of my mom’s life,” Paris told Zulkey of her mother. “Her life is not ordinary because: a) Her work and all that she makes is unique, non-traditional, and forward thinking. This type of approach allows for non-ordinary, yet beautiful and serendipitous (one of her favorite words) things to flow into her life. b) No one’s life is really normal or ordinary, because what is normal? And how can a life be ordinary if each one is vastly different in its own way?”