September 11th – my version of the story

Sep 10, 2011


I woke up that morning of September 11th, as I did every morning during that time in my life, in a haze.  So much had happened in such a short time.  I had graduated from college, broken up with a man I was devoted to for several years, my mom had turned yellow and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I’d spent 4 months as her primary care giver as her life painfully slipped away, and then I found her body in the morning after she had slipped away while her family slept. It had been only 2 months, and I was still just wrapping my mind around the fact that everything was different.  Everything felt surreal, and I woke up every morning wondering how life could go on without the light that was my mother.

I was still rubbing my eyes, & wondering what was real when my father, in the midst of getting ready for work, came into my room and told me to turn on the television. That a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.  What?  No way.  There it was, emblazoned on the tv screen.  That grand building  billowing smoke so high up in the NYC sky.  Not long after I tuned in, the second plane slammed into the second tower.  Surreal.  Horrific.  How could this be happening?  (I couldn’t help thinking, “What would Mom think if she was seeing this?”)

I had been corresponding with a guy via a handful of really amazing emails for a few days.  I had been really secluded, in a relationship that I was pretty isolated by for years and then sequestered in the house taking care of my Mom, and a friend of mine going through a divorce had suggested checking out  “It’s fun to get the attention from men without having to actually meet or follow through!”, she told me.  So I had been checking it out – posted a free profile of myself, reading what people had to say about themselves, enjoyed getting some emails, but I was thoroughly unimpressed.  Then I spotted HIS “profile”.  This guy, Rob Downer, he was different.  He wrote about himself in a really authentic, open way.  He wrote about gardening, cooking, music, building strawbale homes. He wrote about looking for a “goddess” he could share his dreams with and cook amazing meals for.  I went back several times, and finally I paid for a membership so I could write to this guy!  The title of my first email to Rob  was “I’m here!” :o)  We exchanged several raw and gut spilling emails back and forth – there was a clear connection – and planned a date for Thursday, Sept 13.

Back to the morning of 9.11 … I, like the rest of the world, was glued to the media coverage.  Watching the towers fall, watching the apocalyptic images of NYC and its people experiencing the absolutely unthinkable terror and tragedy.   I also opened up my computer and saw that this guy, Rob Downer, was online and decided to pop up on his screen and talk about what was happening.  We ended up chatting on Instant Messenger for his entire day at work – keeping each other company.  Even online he was an enormous comfort and grounding force for me!  As his work day came to an end, I told him that the Weezer concert I was planning to take my little brother to that night was canceled, and maybe we should meet that night rather than wait until thursday???  But I was very non-committal… “Why don’t you give me your number and I’ll call you if I’m up to meeting.”  I wasn’t sure I would call.  I felt shy and excited and devastated and hopeful, and I ended up getting myself ready and giving Mr Downer a ring.

We met that night in Santa Cruz for sushi.  I stood there on Pacific Avenue at the end of an alley way, and I felt someone walking up behind me.  I twirled around in my orange skirt, and there he was.  Full dark beard, shaved head, black framed glasses, beaming at me with sparkling eyes and smile.  We hugged, and it was like no hug I had ever felt.  “Electric!” is how he would aptly describe it.  That evening the world was in shock & horror, there was a deeply somber mood everywhere, but we were in a little world of our own.  We spent the evening over sushi, beer, and then tea.  Spilling our hearts out, telling truths, and *I* spent a lot of the time giggling.  I wouldn’t have admitted it that night, but it was LOVE at first sight.  We parted that night, both of us full of butterflies.

That, my friends, is the MY story of 9.11.  It was the date, 10 years ago, that I met the Love of my Life.  It was a terrible, heartbreaking, devastating, life changing, amazing, delightful day.  The rest is history.  We have been inseparable ever since.

Here we are, the 2 of us:

Madly & passionately in love.  Best friends. A team to be reckoned with!

And here are the fruits of our loving partnership!

(This family photo session is from September 2005 with our dear friend, Suzi Q Varin.  Zoë is 2 and a half, Sam is 5 months.  These photos slay me!)

These past 10 years have been the most ALIVE of my life.  They have been years full of dreams coming true, dreams crashing down, things becoming reality that you would never hope for but I feel blessed to embrace, huge challenges, and tremendous joys.  We are a family full of unconditional love and commitment.  Lots of laughs and adoration goin’ on here!

Rob, I thank you for 10 years of your love, friendship, and support.  I thank you for being the one who makes my heart beat faster, for being the one who lights up my face when you walk into the room.  I thank you for being my sounding board and my voice of reason, my partner in crime and silliness, my teammate in parenting these two amazing beings entrusted into our care.  I love you with all of my heart and soul… forever.

And to the rest of you, friends, as you remember 9.11 and feel the emotions of that day 10 years ago, please think of our sweet little story and remember that there is always light to be found in darkness.  I send you love.


  1. kati says:

    eek, look at those cuuuuute baaabies! y’all are a shot of light in the darkness. xo

  2. Mira says:

    Thank you Jen. What a beautiful sweet ray of light story. I’m so happy you shared. It’s a nice way for me to start this day. Sending love to every one in your family and to the family as a whole.

  3. Laney Butler says:

    What a story you two have. I loved reading it. I’m sorry about about your mom. xoxo

  4. Dana says:

    Love this. Happy 10 years together. My Bob would be fast friends with your Rob…hay bale houses 🙂 we live in a solar heated community in Okotoks, AB come visit us sometime.

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