Eleven years later

Dec 13

Today Brad I and spent most of the day at the hospital: surgery prep, oophorectomy, and surgical recovery.  I’m home now, and all went as expected.  Today, for once, I was medically boring, and it feels good.  We’re both comfortable with hospitals and doctors and medical jargon.  I am what you call a frequent flyer at the hospital: we know the routine on days like today.  We have excellent rapport with the nurses and doctors who come in and out of my room.  We make use of the together time in such a way that I feel like we were on an all-day date: we talk, he swings his visitor chair next to the hospital bed so I can hold his hand or rest my head on his shoulder when I want to, and he waits on me with endless love and patience.  I’m so lucky to have this man by my side.

That’s what I was thinking about today when I realized that today is also the anniversary of our very first date.  Sure enough, we googled “2002 calendar” and confirmed that December 13, 2002, was indeed a Friday.

I remember I came home from work that day with a migraine.  I was a high school history teacher in those days, and I loved my job.  I took my migraine medicine at 3:30, and fell into bed.  When I woke up at 7:00pm sans headache, I thought: Woo Hoo!  It’s Friday night–I’m up for some fun.  I called my roommates to find out what the plan was for the night.  Upon talking to them, I learned that they were at the Christmas tree farm picking out a Christmas tree for our apartment with their boyfriends.  After choosing a tree, the four of them were coming back to our place to decorate and make Christmas cookies.  I thought Great… not only is it date night (and I don’t have a date), but it’s date night at my place.  Wamp wamp.

I resigned myself to a quieter night at home, and decided to eat something.  I heated up some Spaghetti-O’s from the sparse pantry, and sat down at the table just as my cell phone rang with Unknown Number calling.  I’ll never forget answering the phone:


“Hi Jen, this is Brad Anderson.”  There was somewhat of a long pause as he was not entirely sure I would know who he was.  We had met twice earlier in the year; once when I was invited by a friend of a friend to a party at his house, and another time when he came as a visitor to my church.  So, I did remember him, but we barely knew each other.

“Hi Brad.”

“What are you doing tonight?”

I look down at my Spaghetti-O’s, and quickly say, “Not too much, I am just home waiting for my roommates and their boyfriends to come back.”

“I’m still at work, but I’m finally done, and I was wondering if you would like to go get something to eat?”

“Yes!  Thank you, that sounds great.”

I know now that he had called our mutual friend to get my number.  He had been thinking about me since our brief chance meetings, and he was nervous to ask me out out of the blue.  I’m so thankful he took the risk that night.

I went on to give him directions to my apartment over the phone, and he picked me up twenty minutes later.  We went to an iconic Cincinnati pizza place, and we were there for at least two hours.  Our conversation was easy; we’re both good question-askers, and everything I learned about him made me want to know more.  He was strong, confident, so handsome, and intelligent.  I was so at ease, and he was so chivalrous: he opened doors for me, took my coat, and treated me like I was precious.  We learned a lot about each other that night.  It felt good; it felt like what a first date should be like.

I vividly remember sitting in the booth and looking at him thinking: gosh, this guy is amazing.  He knows who he is, what he wants, and I find him so attractive.  I love that I can remember that image and feeling eleven years later–and am awed by how much it still rings true.

After our lingering dinner, I invited him back to my place to meet up with my roommates for Merry Merry Date Night, somewhat tickled that I now had a date to bring to the party.  We walked in the front door, and, as per norm in Ohio in December, took off our shoes and coats at the door.  As Brad took off his coat and turned to hang it, I vividly remember my roommate Listy frantically pantomiming behind him OMG.  What are you doing here with Brad Anderson?  What that what?  Migraine?   Spaghetti0’s?  What happened in the last few hours?  Brad turned around again, and Listy feigned normalcy and offered him something to drink and introduced him to the rest of our friends.

The six of us hung out that night and watched a movie.  I don’t remember much about the rest of the night, but I remember Listy and Shortie closing the door on the boys at the end of the night and then whirling on me with a barrage of questions.  I remember answering them with a stupid grin on my face.  I remember thinking: I want to see Brad again.

December 13.  Eleven years later.  Love.  LOVE.



  1. Love. LOVE! 🙂

  2. Sweet. Praying for you. Hoping for a happy Christmas for you & yours.

  3. So your medically boring day really turned out to be magnificent celebration day of LOVE! That’s a far, far better way to remember yesterday. Loved the story ~ so glad you wrote about it. ♥p

  4. Bonnie BJ /

    How fun Jen and how sweet !! Never had heard the “first date story” and a good Dr report to boot. 🙂 yes, I do believe it was a Great day !! Praying your recovery is complete and peaceful. Enjoy your sweet family on this snowy day !

  5. Christin /

    It’s so much fun to hear that story all over again!!! He really did swoop in like a knight to win your affection. I love reading that he still loves, protects, and wins your affection every day. What a good man!!!

  6. I am so glad it went well! I cannot believe it’s been eleven years. You too are so cute!

  7. Lisa Smith /

    Love that story Jen. I can envision all of it. Spaghetti O’s = 0, Love = 1

  8. jennifer /

    Hi J What a great story, it affirms everything happens for a reason! I read your blog religiously. We were both struggling with health issues at the same time. My situation has returned, and while it is no where near what you are dealing with, i really relate to much of what you are saying. YOu are an inspiration to me. I think if SHE can do it. I can certainly get up and… fill in the blank. You are having an impact, and I pray for you and your family.

  9. I love this story about how you met!!! It is just like the fairytale wedding I remembered so much!! Beautiful!! I am happy the surgery went well!!!

  10. Brad was truly smitten as well. You inspired him to take up running on a grand scale. We witnessed this when he came home for Christmas that year, just a couple of weeks after your first date. We knew that you were the “one” just by listening to him talk about you.

  11. Hi Jen! Another stranger/friend/huge admirer of yours;) I wanted to let you know that although I do not comment often, I’m always thinking of you and your sweet little family. You are such a strong and beautiful woman/wife/mother and your outlook on life leaves me speechless so often. Continue to warrior on and know that there are so very many of us pulling for you and cheering you on. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


  12. Isn’t it amazing when the right one knocks on the door and we find what we’ve been hoping to locate for all our lives ?~! Eleven years of love and happiness-here’s to fifty-eleven more !~!

  13. What an amazing man God blessed you with!! To think that God knew even then the exact person you would need so many years later to walk this road with you!! Amazing! Fervently praying that in 50 more years you are still reminiscing about that night:)

  14. This is a precious story of a loving God’s provision. It’s also a pretty amazing first date/fall in love story! ♥

  15. Rebecca /

    Love. Love that all of this happened on my birthday. 🙂

  16. Brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes. Glad you are so loved!!

  17. this might be one of my favorite posts. I felt like I was watching a movie of two of my favorite people falling in love. What a great story teller you are! I hope you share this story with your girls soon. It is the kind they are going to want to hear over and over and over again. : )

  18. Shannon Weiss /

    Love indeed! I still to this day talk about your wedding and how it was absolutely beautiful and perfect!!