A little more than a year ago, Chicago author Amy Rosenthal wrote an impassioned dating profile for her husband, Jason Rosenthal, in the New York Times‘ Modern Love column, just before she died of cancer on March 13, 2017. Now, the widower is filling the column’s pages with heartfelt words of his own, as he spends a second Father’s Day without the love of his life.
Amy’s personal essay quickly made headlines last year, launching Jason into the public eye — and landing him several emails from female readers. But, he wrote, Amy’s illness made her unable to enjoy the reach of her own words.
“Amy was too sick to appreciate it. As the international reaction became overwhelming, I was torn up thinking how she was missing the profound impact her words were having,” Jason wrote.
Last March, the Times published the dating profile titled “You May Want to Marry My Husband” that Amy wrote for Jason. In the moving essay, Amy called Jason “an easy man to fall in love with,” described him as a “sharp dresser” and an “absolutely wonderful father” to their three children.
In Jason’s piece, published on Friday and aptly titled “My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me,” Jason began simply: “I am that guy.”
“I want more time with Amy. I want more time picnicking and listening to music at Millennium Park,” he wrote of his wife, who died at age 51. “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.”
In a recent TED Talk, Jason revealed that the final weeks of Amy’s life still “haunt” him. As her health declined, she suffered dramatic weight loss and needed help getting around the family’s home. Jason said Amy died in their bed and he recalled carrying her body to a waiting gurney.
He admitted in his column that, in the weeks following Amy’s death, he was in no place to “digest” any of the dozens of messages he received from women willing to take Amy up on her offer to marry Jason.
“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,’ ” the father of three wrote.
Although he’s experienced immense grief and sorrow as a result of the loss, Jason wrote that he has managed to find moments of joy — thanks to his wife’s very public edict that he “go on.”
“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.
Much like his wife, Jason ended his poignant piece with an offer.
“My wife gave me a gift at the end of her column when she left me that empty space, one I would like to offer you. A blank space to fill. The freedom and permission to write your own story.”
The Rosenthal family has also relaunched the Amy Krouse Rosenthal Foundation, which now funds ovarian cancer research and childhood literacy initiatives.