Tributes to Jenn
From Sue (her art teacher in junior high school and good friend):
Jen--how radiant could one person be? Never did I come into her presence without feeling the glow of Jen-warmth in me/on me (even in 7th grade...light beams shone all 'round her work table!) Plus, and beyond almost anyone I know, Jen's optimistic love mirrored that quality she found in others, so, "being" with her shot reflections of 'what's good in you' back towards her. That free and genuine smile acknowledged this transfer at all times----and----keeps her present, rather than memory in my heart.
I am thankful to have been a part of your too short life. You have graced me and our family with your love, strength, courage, kindness and joy beyond belief. You showed us how to love without judging, have fun without competing, bear the most unbearable things without complaining. Your courageous beautiful spirit shone through you from the very beginning and continues to shine for me now. Thank you for being so present to each of us; giving everyone you met your all. I treasure the time we had together on this earth and look forward to seeing you again. I found this quote you wrote on a scrap of paper--"The shining spirit of a single individual can change the course of mankind." Ed Scofield (Philosopher) That's you. I love you and miss you Jenni.
Memories of Jenn by “Jenn’s Dad”
The following, with a little editing, is the letter I wrote to Jenn when she was in Palau for the filming of Survivor: Palau. This brief piece, which I leave in the form of a letter to a beloved daughter, captures the essence of my memories and feelings about her. As you will see, this letter has taken on a timeless quality.
It’s hard to believe I’m writing to you on the other side of the world where you’re doing something so exciting. As you know, I’m not the best at communicating, but I do count on being able to say hi to you every now and then. Even when you’re closer to home, I often think about you, how you’re doing and what you’re doing. Every day now I think about what amazing challenges you’re taking on. I know that you’ll face all of those challenges with the skill, grace and integrity that are you.
Since you’ve been gone on this adventure I’ve spent a lot of time remembering the times we’ve shared over the years. From the time you were the little Sumo wrestler swimmer, all the way through the years of school, sports, music and drama, you’ve always been an inspiration, taking on challenges that I knew were not easy for you, like starring in “Grease!” I watch that video from time to time partly because I know that you’re like me in having to push through the shy thing and let your talents and gifts unfold.
One memory that really stands out for me goes back to when I was still working for the school district and you were still in high school. When my work took me to the high school, I always looked forward to trading smiles with you in the hallway. As I’m sure you’ve been told, you have the kind of genuine smile that warms a person’s heart. I don’t know if I ever told you this, but after you graduated, the first time I went to the high school the next fall and realized I wouldn’t see you there again I suddenly had a really empty feeling, knowing I wouldn’t see your sweet smile there again.
I hope you know that your mom and I value your steadfast support of us through all of the challenges we’ve been through. I don’t know how you’ve weathered them all with such grace and good will; maybe you’ve used them to make you stronger. I hope you feel our support of you at this time and always.
Jenni, the only advice I can give you is to be true to yourself; but I know that advice is unnecessary because you always are. Just know that I love and support you in this and all you do. I am so looking forward to hearing you tell me about this chapter in your life!