NEW YORK — Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a popular author, filmmaker and speaker who broke hearts when she wrote of being terminally ill and leaving behind her husband Jason, died Monday at age 51.
Rosenthal had been diagnosed in 2015 with ovarian cancer. Her death was confirmed to The Associated Press by her longtime literary agent, Amy Rennert, who said Rosenthal "was the most life-affirming person, and love-affirming person."
Fellow author John Green tweeted: "She was a brilliant writer, and an even better friend."
...and when Sarah came into my life, I remember Amy pulling me aside and saying, "I think you've met your Jason."— John Green (@johngreen) March 13, 2017
Rosenthal stunned many readers with her widely read Modern Love column in the New York Times March 3, under the headline, "You May Want to Marry My Husband." She wrote about how she expected to die soon and then paid tribute to husband Jason Brian Rosenthal in a form many modern readers would recognize: an affectionate dating profile. The column instantly went viral.
"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 wrote she was finishing the column on Valentine's Day. "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.
People magazine followed with a profile of the family, featuring a statement from her husband. "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,” he told the magazine.
A Chicago native and longtime resident, Rosenthal completed more than 30 books, including journals, memoirs and the best-selling picture stories Uni the Unicorn and Duck! Rabbit! She made short films and YouTube videos, gave TED talks and provided radio commentary for NPR, among others.
She also raised three children and had a flair for random acts of kindness, whether hanging dollar bills from a tree or leaving notes on ATM machines.
While her books were noted for their exuberant tone, she started a very different conversation with her column.
"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," she wrote.
Starting in the late 1990s, Rosenthal published at least a book a year, and sometimes three or four. Rennert said Monday that she had completed seven more picture books before her death, including a collaboration with her daughter, Paris, called Dear Girl.
Rosenthal loved experimenting with different media, and blending the virtual and physical worlds. One of her favorite projects began with a YouTube video, 17 Things I Made, featuring everything from books she had written to her three children to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. At the end of the video, she welcomed fans to join her at Chicago's Millennium Park, on Aug. 8, 2008, at 8:08 p.m. The goal was to make a "cool" 18th thing.
Hundreds turned out to "make" things — a grand entrance, a new friend, a splash, something pretty.
"I tend to believe whatever you decide to look for you will find, whatever you beckon will eventually beckon you," she said during a 2012 TED talk.