What Love Means

Yesterday, author Amy Krouse Rosenthal — who wrote the viral New York Times essay You May Want to Marry My Husband — died from ovarian cancer. I saw on Jenny’s site that Rosenthal had also published a memoir called Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, in which she wrote entries about everyday life, organized from A to Z. These two excerpts were especially moving:

Under “L”

LOVE – If you really love someone, you want to know what they ate for lunch or dinner without you. Hi, sweetie, how was your day, what did you have for lunch? Or if your mate was out of town on business: How was your trip, did the meeting go well, what did you do for dinner? Jason will stumble home in the wee hours from a bachelor party, and as he crawls into bed I’ll pry myself from sleep long enough to mumble, how was the party, how was the restaurant beforehand? The meal that has no bearing on the relationship appears to be breakfast. I can love you and not know that when you were in Cincinnati last Wednesday you had yogurt and a bagel.

Under “R”

RETURNING TO LIFE AFTER BEING DEAD – When I am feeling dreary, annoyed and generally unimpressed by life, I imagine what it would be like to come back to this world for just a day after having been dead. I imagine how sentimental I would feel about the very things I once found stupid, hateful or mundane. Oh, there’s a light switch! I haven’t seen a light switch in so long! I didn’t realize how much I missed light switches! Oh! Oh! And look – the stairs up to our front porch are still completely cracked! Hello cracks! Let me get a good look at you. And there’s my neighbor, standing there, fantastically alive, just the same, still punctuating her sentences with you know what I’m saying? Why did that bother me? It’s so… endearing.

Aren’t these beautifully true? The second one reminds me of Nora Ephron’s lists of What I Won’t Miss (dry skin, funerals, bras…) and What I’ll Miss (my kids, waffles, the concept of waffles…). Both heartbreaking and life affirming to think about what yours would be.

P.S. How to write a condolence note, and what marriage means.

(Photo by Nikole Herriott/Instagram. Excerpts via Jenny Rosenstrach.)