by Franki Cookney
For most people, the first few months of a relationship are a whirlwind of novelty and excitement. For New Jersey-based Jenn and Andy, they were filled with doctor’s appointments and preparation for major surgery.
Jenn, 32, had known she needed the operation, but she never imagined the man she’d only just met would want to be there to hold her hand. But Andy, 31, had no doubt in his mind.
“If you’re going through something like that, I’m there,” he says.
So three months after they started dating, he found himself sleeping in a chair in the ward while his new girlfriend recovered from a hysterectomy.
Single mom Jenn had matched with Andy in what she describes as “the worst possible state of my life.” In July 2018, she’d had what she thought was an asthma attack. She drove to hospital where she ended up in the ICU for four days having blood clots removed from her lungs and legs. She was lucky to be alive.
She’d also just broken up with a boyfriend of four years and had a six-year-old daughter from a previous relationship to look after. Undeniably “it was a lot to process,” and she had neither the intention nor the hope of meeting anyone new.
“I thought, who’s going to want me?” she says.
A friend recommended Bumble, suggesting she just browse the profiles and reassure herself that there were men who wanted to date her.
Jenn, an insurance broker, matched with Andy straight away, and as she lay on the couch watching TV after putting her daughter to bed, she thought she may as well say hi. Andy, who was in bumper-to-bumper traffic driving back to New Jersey from New York at the time, saw her message pop up and figured since he wasn’t going anywhere he’d reply.
He mentioned he worked in entertainment and was currently prepping for Fashion Week in New York. As Jenn had spent some of her early career working in fashion she was instantly intrigued. They ended up sending messages back and forth for the next four or five hours, at first while Andy was stuck on the freeway and picking up again after he got home that night. They swapped stories from the fashion industry and discovered they had mutual friends working in theater.
“It was honestly like talking to a friend,” says Jenn. “I have never had that kind of instant flow of conversation with someone.”
When she went to bed that night she thought that would be the end of it. But the next morning, Andy messaged again. “I came to Bumble on the rebound after a breakup so I wasn’t looking for anything serious,” he says. “I just thought we had a good conversation. But then once again I was stuck in traffic on the way to work and I thought, ‘Well OK, I’ll just say good morning!’”
They talked back and forth all day. Finally, on the third day of non-stop chatting, he asked if he could drive over and meet her.
“Something about it just felt right,” remembers Andy. “We’d been chatting all day and we realized I only lived 15 minutes away and I thought, let’s just see. So I drove down there at 11 o’clock at night wearing gym shorts, a zip-up, and my Uggs. I pulled up and she was sitting on her front step in pajama shorts and a tank top and I knew straight away this thing was legit.”
Jenn laughs: “Neither of us had made any effort. But he got out the car and literally within seconds I knew this was it.”
As they got to know each other over the next few weeks, Jenn knew she had to somehow break it to him that she was sick with deep vein thrombosis. The blood thinners she’d been given to treat the blood clots in her legs and lungs had caused gynecological complications and she needed to have a hysterectomy. “I didn’t have the strength to tell him that I was in such a horrible place in my life,” she says.
To her surprise, Andy was completely unfazed. “I told him I was having surgery and he got out his phone there and then and put it in his calendar,” she says.
In December 2018, she had the operation. When she woke up, Andy was right beside her, fussing over her hospital dinner order. “He asked me if I wanted an apple or a pear, and that was the moment I knew I was going to marry him!” she says.
The following March, Andy proposed with his great-grandmother’s ring. He got dressed in the same casual outfit he’d worn the night they met — right down to the Uggs — and took Jenn out onto her front steps in Landing, N.J., where she’d greeted him for the first time.
The couple hoped to get married in September 2020, two years to the day after they first met. In keeping with their relationship so far, there will be no pretensions, just a simple, family-orientated celebration. “We’re not planning a typical New Jersey wedding,” says Jenn. “No massive ballroom, no big dress.”
“It’s just going to be a private ceremony on the beach with family and our best friends,” says Andy. “And then the next day we’ll have a small reception at a restaurant. No seating chart or top tables, just get a beer and some tacos, listen to my friend’s band, and enjoy the party.”
The pandemic has forced them to postpone the wedding until 2021 but the couple looks forward to finally being able to celebrate. “2020 has been a lovely year,” Jenn laughs, wryly. “But we joked that if we can withstand everything life has thrown at us so far, then we’re pretty set for the future.”