Our Love Story

As part of my Next Chapters, I wanted to share the following chapter from my book, My Heroes Ask Wallflowers to Dance (December 2012), and how a chronic disease (cystic fibrosis) and subsequent lung and kidney transplants, has allowed Patrick and I to cherish each other every single day and love with an eternal perspective – in hopes that it will remind us all how precious the gifts of  time, love and life truly are:

“I just had this feeling wash over me that I really needed to get to know her,” my husband, Patrick, remembers about the first time he saw me at church. Although no words were exchanged between us, that very same day, I followed promptings I felt to end the serious relationship I was in with a different suitor. Less than two weeks later, both Patrick and I embarked on independent trips to Mexico: he on a surf trip, and me vacationing with friends. While driving, while talking and while in between waves, Patrick asked his friends all about me, one of which happened to be my old roommate.

As he and his friends stood outside a taco shop on the dusty streets of Puerto Nuevo, Patrick was the first to spot me strolling down the street, hitting his brother and exclaiming, “Dude, Ryan! Is that that girl? No way…!”  Seconds later, my friend who was standing with Patrick, exclaimed, “Jen, Jen Sabin!”  As I met Patrick, I immediately noticed his smiley eyes, sparkling with warmth and kindness.  A very macho, “Hey” was all he could muster in his nervous excitement.

A short time later, I helped Patrick move to Carlsbad, California from Murrieta, California, and a small group of us became inseparable, laughing until our stomachs ached almost every night. Within the next three months, I was hospitalized twice, quite out of the ordinary compared to the previous three years of no hospitalizations and the years that would follow.  I believe these hospitalizations served as a crash course for Patrick and the hard questions associated with my life.  As I waited for test results in the ER, Patrick and my roommate, Andrea, brought me my favorite Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, “Chubby Hubby,” which we ate with hospital tongue depressors, the only utensils we could find.

Picture-038
February 2006

After I was admitted to the hospital, and in between IV doses, Patrick and I made a “jail break,” sneaking past the nurses’ station, to a local Japanese restaurant for our very memorable second date. I had never known if I was going to get married but I had always known I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than my soul mate. The joy of finding sweet, fun Patrick, in addition to my own happiness, was incomprehensible.

Patrick and I spent so much time talking that I knew I wanted to marry him before we ever even held hands.  He knew too. When I brought up my health concerns to him: that I didn’t know if I should have children, that I would eventually need a kidney transplant and that the future is all uncharted territory, he didn’t even flinch. He simply responded, “Everyone has challenges. We’ll know what’s right, everything will work out how it’s supposed to….I’ve been searching for this for so long, I’m just sorry it took me so long to find you.”

When my dad visited with Patrick privately before we were married, he asked him how much he knew of the high risk situation he was facing and if he was prepared to have his heart broken. Patrick reiterated that it did not matter how long we had in this life as long as he had me for forever.  Such is the comfort that comes from the beliefs we possess in temple marriage and such is the character and depth of my soul mate.

May 26, 2006
May 26, 2006

As I giddily entered the exquisitely beautiful, exquisitely white room where we were to be married in the San Diego Latter-Day Saint Temple, I beheld a sea of loving smiles and twinkling eyes of family, friends and my remarkable lung donors. I struggled to keep my composure…and eventually lost the battle. The miracles in my life had already been profound and the gift of Patrick was the best miracle of all!

Patrick, my dear sweetheart, and I have now been married for over six years [at the time this was published, now over 15!], and there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t make me laugh or feel loved. As I contemplate my future, I’d like to share a very special journal entry about my sweetheart with the hope that it will cause you to cherish your own spouse and/or your own loved ones more, asking them to dance, and if need be, carrying them onto the dance floor:

May 26, 2009, our third year anniversary: I told Patrick that at times I feel so selfish for him marrying me and then me leaving him [in death]. He assured me that he wanted to be with me forever. He said he does think about me dying but if anything it is a great motivating factor for him to be a better person because I was “perfect.” He said he “will cross that bridge when he gets there …”

Blowing in the wind on a Caribbean Cruise
Blowing in the wind on a Caribbean Cruise

I never used to think about death so much because I knew I was supposed to survive my transplant. Now, after researching for my book and seeing how few people live past ten years, I realize I could go anytime. I am glad I am more aware but often I wish I could just turn my brain off and stop worrying for my sweetie. It’s so fascinating, I used to not care about dying because it was a way to escape this life’s challenges, now I just pray to prolong it as long as possible so Patrick won’t be alone very long. Then my mind wanders to everyone else…all my dear family members and all my dear friends…and my heart breaks for each one of them. I know we will all be reunited again, but I also know how hard and long the mourning of this life can be.  I think about how if Patrick was to die, how crushed, devastated and paralyzed I would be, he is my life, my joy, my everything. I marvel at how perfect we are for each other: he makes me laugh every second and is so sweet, patient, fun and pure. We just “get each other” and “need each other.” We love to be silly; often Patrick we’ll be like, “We’re such idiots,” because of the silly fun we’re having together, glad no one else can hear.

He is a very special man to willingly endure this trial, as well as not having children and to see past this life and its frailty to the eternities beyond. I feel like I have to be much more “amazing” to make up for everything.

Brooke [(his sister)] told me once he had said, “I’d rather have Jen for a few years in this life and then for the rest of eternity than nothing at all. ”

2012-06-28-18.21

I am so blessed to have Patrick in my life, from “bourbon burgers” [(a Carl’s Jr. special)] to the beach, to cuddling during movies, to cooking together, talking together, laughing together. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have been brought together with my soul mate. We get to celebrate eternity together… and have tons of fun FOREVER! I love you Patrick with all of my heart. You are the joy in my life and I am so privileged to be married to you. You teach me so much and I couldn’t love you any more. Thank you for loving me, thank you for your faith, thank you for being my best friend and the best husband in the whole wide world. I love you forever!!!

My Heroes Ask Wallflowers To Dance, Jennifer Sabin Sattley, December 2012

Love-Story-Jen-and-Patrick-pic
Photo courtesy of Look-It Photography

Read more about my life saving living donor double lung transplant HERE.

Read more about my story, eternal perspectives and “life lessons,”   HERE (A Perfect Brightness of Hope“)

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196 Comments

  1. Simona says

    Now this is just amazing. I stepped into your cooking recipes by chance, and I carry home a way more important “life recipe” from you. I wish you and your husband all the best for many years to come, as you clearly are a couple of bright, loving, deserving souls (forgive my peculiar English, it is not my native language and I am also sooooo tired right now).

    • Jen says

      What a kind comment, thank you so so much Simona! I’m so glad you stumbled upon my site and your soul was enriched 🙂 I wish you and yours all the very best as well! xo

  2. Mar says

    Jen <3
    I saw your recipe for pineapple Kabobs on pinterest and had to look, who cannot love
    pineapple and chicken together – they were meant to be!!! Just as it 100% sounds like you
    and Patrick were meant to be, really living in CA, but meeting in Mexico on vacation when
    P had already seen you and wanted to know you.
    I am so thankful to God for people like you who share their lives, hardships and love. And for those who are live organ donors and those who make the decision to donate when they are gone from this earth. I wish more
    people would sign up to be organ donors for lovely people like you, and families at the most
    difficult time would make the choice to donate a loved ones organs who had not made the
    decision in time. Our souls live on, the rest of us can help someone else live on.

    So Thankful for you sharing your story (I could not resist, and am glad I stopped to read it)
    Wishing you bountiful blessings, love, joy, health and happiness always

    xoxo
    Mar

    • Jen says

      Hi Mar! I’m sorry for my delay in responding to you but THANK YOU so much for taking the time to read our story and for your beautiful comment and well wishes! You are so wonderfully thoughtful with a generous spirit! I wish you and your family nothing but the best! xo

  3. Migdalia Figueroa says

    I has a cousin whom lost her battle against that terrible illness. The difference between her and you, her doctors never offered her the option of having a lung transplant done. The time passed, she became very ill and weak. Latter, she passed away. I guess we will never know the reason why she did not get a transplant. But, this illness happened to her at an older age. After she was a mother of three, and a grandmother of three. After I read your story about meeting and marrying your husband I wondered why you have not had any children. If you cannot carry a baby, there is always the option of using a surrogate mother. I am sure there would be plenty of women in your family or friends who know you well that would be good candidates and volunteers to help you to become a mother. I feel you will have plenty of time to enjoy motherhood. You are a good soul. I know this is none of my business, but I think you would truly be a wonderful mother. Think abou t it, but act quickly while you are still young. . God bless you and husband always!

    • Jen says

      I am so sorry for you cousin and for you loss – that is devastating she didn’t get the opportunity of the transplant. Maybe she died on the waiting list? You are sweet to say I’d be a wonderful mother!

  4. Amber says

    Jen, you have such an incredible story. I can tell that you, your husband, and your loved ones are wonderful people. I commend you and your husband for the choice to not birth children, as you would not want to pass on such a dangerous disease. But, if you and your husband want children, I would recommend adoption. There are so, so many wonderful children in this world in need of a loving home. Congratulations on your surgery and finding your soul mate!!
    Also, girl you got it going on in the kitchen!! These recipes look absolutely awesome!! I started a list of your recipes to try and had to stop because there were too many to write down that I want to eat!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Amber, I hope you absolutely love my recipes! Thank you so much for reading our story and for your kind words! My decision not to have children is based on my unknown life expectancy (only 17% transplant individuals live past 10 years) and that I’m not supposed to be around anyone sick even if it’s just a cold, otherwise adoption would definitely be an option. I just feel blessed to be alive one day at a time 🙂

  5. Corey Anderson says

    Wow. I unexpectedly got a lot more this morning than just your fabulous looking Steak Fajita recipe, thank you very much Pinterest. Your story is so inspiring and a miracle. I’m a Pediatric Cardiac ICU RN in Atlanta, where we do not perform Lung Transplants, and I care for many children with Pulmonary Hypertension (different disease process, same outcome). Reading how you have thrived against the odds is so encouraging and salve for the soul. I’m keeping you in my thoughts and prayers, take care, and God Bless!

    • Jen says

      Hi Corey, I was on a cruise without internet for over a week and I am all sorts of behind but thank you so much for your comment! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and thank YOU for all your work as a Pediatric Cardiac ICU nurse. I can’t imagine how emotionally draining that must be but on behalf of all the children whose lives you have touched, a huge hug and thank you. I know what a difference a kind, caring nurse can make! Thank you also for the thoughts and prayers. Sending prayers of gratitude and for your health and happiness as well! xo

  6. Jo-Ann says

    I have a seven year old grandson with CF. I saw him born into this world and it was such an amazingly happy day. The next day he was in ICU because he couldn’t poop. When they told us it could be CF none of us believed it because no one in either family had ever had CF. It wasn’t long before our world came crashing down and we were told indeed he had it. It has been 7 years now and the diagnosis is a huge lump in my heart . I pray every day that they find a cure for this deadly disease before it is too late for Keenan. My prayer for him and you is for a long,healthy, happy life. I hope one day Keenan will find a girl with your husband’s heart who will love him despite the unknowns. I know God watches over him and has given us this amazing little boy to love wholeheartedly. He has already taught us many lessons about living each day as the precious moment it is.

    May you continue to live a long and blessed life. I will keep you in my prayers
    Keenan’s very proud Nana

    P.S. I will be making the sweet,fiery Chinese chicken for supper tomorrow.

    • Jen says

      Hi Jo-Ann, thank you so much for your kind words and prayers – I know they make a difference! I hope your sweet Keenan is doing well! The doctors/researchers have made great strides in research and new medications and are SO close to a cure! I hope your sweet Keenan can take advantage of it soon. I have no doubt there is a special woman on this earth just for him! xo

  7. Faye says

    Jen, as a dialysis patient who elected not to go the transplant route (I’m 73 so the surgery is a big risk) I want you to stop thinking about “how long” you have to live! I have known dialysis patients who had transplanted kidneys that lasted 18 yrs before they had to go back on dialysis so there is the chance that both your lungs & kidney transplants can last much longer than 10 yrs.

    You just take care of your body, keep it healthy and spend your time loving that wonderful husband of yours, instead of worrying yourself. You are truly blessed to have found him so enjoy him ! May God lovingly hold you in his arms & protect you.

    PS looking forward to making your bacon ranch cheese ball for Thanksgiving!

    • Jen says

      Hi Faye, thank you so much for your comment! I don’t let me mind wander there to often, it’s just a great reminder to live life to the fullest and keep everything in perspective 🙂 I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving and a delicious one with that Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball!

  8. Lindsey says

    That is the sweetest story! My husbands family carries the cystic fibrosis gene and his uncle has it. He had a lung transplant in 1997 and is a 21 year transplant survivor and is still going strong! Good luck to you and your husband and enjoy your many wonderful years to come!♥️

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Lindsey! That is amazing to hear about your husband’s uncle – I’m so happy for him and his family! Thank you so much for your kind words. May God bless you and yours! xo

  9. Karen says

    My mother-in-law shared your Baja Fish Taco recipe with me. She told me to read the story of how Rubio’s got started because she knew I loved those fish tacos. I am from southern California and now live in Lexington, KY. No Rubio’s here, but now I can make my own. Well, your blog about the fish tacos mentioned you met your husband in Ensenada. I had to read your story because I too met my husband in Ensenada in 1990! We have been married almost 28 years. Blessings to you and your husband. I pray for many, many more years together. God is so good to us! By the way…all your other recipes sound amazing too. Glad I found ya!

    • Jen says

      Hi Karen, what a small world! Congrats on your beautiful marriage of 28 years and counting! I so appreciate you taking the time to read my story and for the prayers. I agree, God is good and I am reminded of that every day! Sending hugs and prayers your way! xo

  10. Rea says

    What a sweet story, I didn’t expect to read this while searching for recipes… You are truly an inspiration. I hope you have many, many more happy years ahead of you. Patrick and you sound like a wonderful couple xxx

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much for your kind words Rea! All the love to you and yours! xo

  11. Mang says

    I came here after a web search for a recipe and got much more! It’s always a blessing to hear of love stories from people who want to act in obedience to God. Thanks very much for sharing your story, Jen.

    May I bless you with something in return? You’ve lived an extraordinary life, and you’re so young! I’m in awe of the love you and your husband have for each other. Please draw on the resurrected Jesus Christ, the Lord, for peace and comfort in all things related to this life, including death that we inevitably will face. In the meantime, please read this article called Save Yourself Some Pain: https://www.livingwaters.com/save-yourself-some-pain/

    Praying for you and your family, Jen.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your super thoughtful comment Mang and for your prayers xoxo. I turn to Christ everyday and am so grateful Him. Thank you for sharing the article – I look forward to reading it! My God’s choicest blessings attend you and your family.

  12. Mel Hatta says

    Dear Jen, In order to get more info for my new menu (bolognese) to sell online for my cafe, I choose to click your page link. Not only I’ve got the recipe, but the life experience and true love between you and Patrick. I Pray for your eternal love and cherish every moment in your life.

    Love from Malaysia,
    Mel Hatta

    • Jen says

      Hi Mel, welcome to my site all the way from Malaysia! I’m honored you took the time to read our story and for your kind words and wishes. I wish you all the love and happiness in this world! xo

  13. Andrea says

    I’ve followed you on IG for a while now and this is the first time I came to your blog and read your story. (I’m so ashamed. It’s definitely my loss.) But I’m glad I finally did. What a remarkable couple you are. I like both of you so much even though I only know you through your words and recipes. Best to you both!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Andrea for taking the time to read our story Andrea! I’m sure 99% of my IG followers haven’t read my story so no shame there ;)! I appreciate your kind words and wish all the best to you and your family as well! xo

  14. Brian Elliot Cordray says

    Thanks for your amazing example of faith and positivity. Love your recipes but your testimony is all the more remarkable. Please keep sharing both with us all—you make the world so much brighter!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for your message Brian, I appreciate your kindness and positivity as well!

  15. Princess says

    Hi, Jen!

    What an amazing story! I think we went to school together and were in the same first grade class, but I had no idea that you’d faced so many challenges since then! Awesome to see you blogging, since I remember when you were still learning to read! Lol. May you have many happy, healthy years of joy with your husband and loved ones, and props to you for choosing not to have kids!

    • Jen says

      That is amazing we were in first grade together, what a small world! Mrs. Kramer was one of my favorite teaches ever! Thank you so much for your thoughtful message and well wishes. I pray for health and happiness for you and yours as well! xo

  16. Paul Caldwell says

    Just found your website by way of the Monte Cristo recipe. I LOVE your site and immediately want to send you money. Why not have a “donate” button somewhere? Looking forward to trying many of the recipes.

    • Jen says

      You are so thoughtful Paul, welcome and thank you! I earn money through the ads on my site so I’m all set, but you are the sweetest to even think about it! Thanks for visiting and I hope you love the Monte Cristo Sandwiches!

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