If you knew that your time was up, wouldn't you want your significant other to be happy? This may sound like a question you'd find on the back-of-the-book copy of a romance novel, but I assure you that the emotional impact of that decision is all too real for children's book author Amy Krouse Rosenthal. In a heartbreaking, viral "Modern Love" piece for the New York Times, Rosenthal pens a love letter to her husband -- including an unorthodox dating profile for women about the love of her life. (Be prepared, it will leave you in tears.)
Rosenthal was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a little over a year ago, and the piece, titled "You May Want to Marry My Husband," gives readers insight into her tragic circumstances.
"I have been married to the most extraordinary man for 26 years. I was planning on at least another 26 together," writes the author of her husband, Jason.
(Pause. Before you read any further, make sure that your Kleenex are at the ready, as you will need them.)
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As is always the case, things for this couple were mostly normal until the day that everything changed.
Want to hear a sick joke? A husband and wife walk into the emergency room in the late evening on Sept. 5, 2015. A few hours and tests later, the doctor clarifies that the unusual pain the wife is feeling on her right side isn't the no-biggie appendicitis they suspected but rather ovarian cancer.
Talk about having your world shattered!
What's even more devastating is that the news came right as the pair had just sent their youngest off to college. As she mentions, they were supposed to be "empty-nesting."
They were supposed to be starting a new phase in their lives.
They were not supposed to be dealing with the reality that they may be losing their partner.
And this wife, mother, and friend was not supposed to be thinking of all the things that she'd be missing out on.
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"No wonder the word cancer and cancel look so similar," she ponders when discussing this life-ending illness.
In a perfect world, some doctor would have found a cure, and she would get to live out the next 26 years with Jason. But life isn't a movie. And sadly, this reality is one that many have surely had to face when dealing with various forms of cancer.
What's inspiring in Rosenthal's situation is that her letter has an underlying message of hope and love as she crafts a somewhat Tinder-like profile of her husband.
"First, the basics: He is 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, with salt-and-pepper hair and hazel eyes," she describes.
Yes, it's a little weird that she's listing off her husband's attributes, but reading on, there's so much more to it that that. She starts describing a lifetime of their being together -- from their first meeting to the moment she fell in love.
She tells us who her husband is and even explains:
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.
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But why is she doing this? Well, she sums it up perfectly by 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."
While many may not agree with it, I can understand this last bit of unfinished business. What she does is not leave anything left unsaid. She's left a letter for Jason that shows exactly what those 26 years meant.
And one day, a woman may swipe right on Jason, and just maybe Jason will, too. But he'll do it with nothing unresolved, and complete with the knowledge that he loved and was truly loved by a woman who wants him to be happy, even if it's by moving on.