It’s impossible to imagine what you would do if the doctor put a limit on the days you have left to live. How do you prioritize a lifetime of dreams in a limited number of days?
Chicago author Amy Krouse Rosenthal was faced with this unfortunate dilemma after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015.
Rather than going skydiving or buying a one-way plane ticket to Tahiti, she simply wrote an essay titled “You May Want to Marry My Husband.”
The piece is written as a “dating profile” for Jason, Amy’s husband of 26 years.
She starts by telling readers:
“I’m 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.”
Amy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in September 2015. She had been experiencing symptoms of appendicitis when she and Jason rushed to the hospital only to learn that their future was no longer certain.
The diagnosis came on the same day that the couple’s youngest son left for college. Excited to embark on what was supposed to be the next chapter of their life together—empty nesting—Amy knew that the diagnosis was instead a foreshadowing of the final chapter.
“No wonder the word cancer and cancel look so similar.”
Amy admits she’s been meaning to write the piece for a while now, and it’s imperative that she does it soon. So after reliving the moment she knew everything was changing, the author goes on to introduce the love of her life:
“As for the future, allow me to introduce you to the gentleman of this article, Jason Brian Rosenthal.
He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day.”
She explains how her father’s best friend (“Uncle” John) had known Amy and Jason their entire lives, but the two had never met. After college, Amy found herself back in Chicago when John decided that she and Jason would be a perfect match. He set them up on a blind date, and nothing was ever the same:
“It was 1989. We were only 24. I had precisely zero expectations about this going anywhere. But when he knocked on the door of my little frame house, I thought, ‘Uh-oh, there is something highly likable about this person.’ By the end of dinner, I knew I wanted to marry him.”
Amy then does the most heartbreakingly beautiful thing 2017 has seen thus-far.
She creates a general dating profile for Jason.
“I have never been on Tinder, Bumble or eHarmony,” she writes, “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”:
“First, the basics: He is 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, with salt-and-pepper hair and hazel eyes.
The following list of attributes is in no particular order because everything feels important to me in some way.
He is a sharp dresser. Our young adult sons, Justin and Miles, often borrow his clothes. Those who know him—or just happen to glance down at the gap between his dress slacks and dress shoes—know that he has a flair for fabulous socks. He is fit and enjoys keeping in shape.”
Amy brags about her husband’s love for music, his witty personality and the many different simple-but-oh-so-beautiful ways that Jason has loved her through the years. Then she breaks down the kind of person Jason is:
“If you’re looking for a dreamy, let’s-go-for-it travel companion, Jason is your man. He also has an affinity for tiny things: 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.
Here is the kind of man Jason is: 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 coffeepot: a spoon, a mug, a banana.
This is a man who emerges from the minimart or gas station and says, “Give me your palm.” And, voilà, a colorful gumball appears. (He knows I love all the flavors but white.)
My guess is you know enough about him now. So let’s swipe right.”
She finished writing the piece on Valentine’s Day, but not before admitting the obvious:
“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.”
Amy concludes by emphasizing the very purpose of the essay, and her only hope for the future:
“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.”