LINCOLN SQUARE — Chicago writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal, whose heart-rending New York Times column about her terminal cancer diagnosis — "You May Want To Marry My Husband" — went viral earlier this month, died Monday.
Though the Times essay may have been many adult readers' first introduction to Krouse Rosenthal's work, the author has long been a giant in the children's book industry and a fixture of Chicago's literary scene, with 30 titles to her name, from the beloved "Little Pea" to the memoir "Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life."
Fans, whether newly won or long-time devotees, have been posting messages to her Facebook page — "The world has lost a truly special woman" — and mourning her death on social media.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement Monday evening:
"Amy Krouse Rosenthal was more than a talented and prolific writer and filmmaker whose work brought warmth and joy to readers young and old. She was a personal friend, a proud Chicagoan, and a devoted mother, wife and daughter. [My wife] Amy and my thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and all those she left behind."
On Monday, the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave., commemorated Krouse Rosenthal's life in books by creating a display of copies of her works in the shop's entry, marked with the simple note, "Thank you Amy."
"She has such beautiful work," said Liz Rice, the Book Cellar employee who pulled together the impromptu memorial.
"She wrote really important, really funny, really sweet books," said Rice. "She's left so much for us."
Krouse Rosenthal, 51, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in September 2015. She continued writing and promoting her books, including the 2016 memoir "Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal," through last fall. A Sept. 14 reading at the Book Cellar was her final publicity event for "Textbook."
Her Times column, written in February, was ostensibly a dating profile for her husband of 26 years, Jason Rosenthal. In reality the piece traced the arc of the pair's enduring romance, providing a portrait of this long-married couple's extraordinary devotion and a glimpse into the wrenching separation Krouse Rosenthal knew was fast approaching.
"I can't imagine having that much grace," said Rice, who pointed out that Krouse Rosenthal had similarly penned a love letter for her three grown children.
Her final children's book, "That's Me Loving You," released in December 2016, reassures its audience that a parent's love is constant, even if their presence isn't.
The book reads, in part: "Always remember, and always know ... That shimmering star? That's me winking at you."
John Green, author of the best-selling "The Fault in Our Stars," was a dear friend of Krouse Rosenthal's — he Skyped into the launch event for "Textbook" at The Bean — and paid tribute to the late author in an eloquent series of tweets.
My friend Amy Krouse Rosenthal has died. She was a brilliant writer, and an even better friend. Amy's genius was in her generosity...— John Green (@johngreen) March 13, 2017
As a mentor and a friend, she was so kind. Like so many writers and artists in Chicago, I got my start through Amy's Writers Block Party...— John Green (@johngreen) March 13, 2017
...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
As a parent, a writer, a spouse, and a friend, Amy Krouse Rosenthal was what I wanted to be when I grew up.— John Green (@johngreen) March 13, 2017
Her last book, the brilliant Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, ended: "Bye. I love you. Thank you." Goodbye, Amy. I love you. Thank you.— John Green (@johngreen) March 13, 2017