My eldest daughter, Jennifer Noel Dahlmann, was the most amazing girl. Beautiful inside and out, Jenny was born with a heart of gold and a sense of kindness that flowed easily and effortlessly to everyone she met.
Jenny walked with grace and beauty and made friends wherever she went. A graceful ballerina in middle school, she transformed into an enthusiastic, adorable cheerleader in high school. Jenny’s smile would melt your heart and her presence in my life was God’s greatest gift to me.
Jenny dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. While attending Walled Lake Central High School, she thrived in her art classes and was determined to be the first student from her school to attend the Art Institute in Chicago. I vividly remember the day she went to present her portfolio for admission to the school. Dressed in a beautiful royal blue suit with a hat that matched, Jenny was the epitome of fashion! Jenny lived her dream that day as she received her acceptance to the Art Institute in Chicago, from the moment she leaped into the air and exclaimed triumphantly, “I made it, mom!”
Is there anything better in life than living your dreams? Jenny’s ambition, hard work, and tenacious spirit propelled her forward. Nothing was “ordinary” about her. Jenny graduated from the Art Institute and went on to be a fashion designer for the Gap in New York. She enjoyed many years of professional success and accomplishment.
Jenny’s success overflowed into her personal life as well. Jenny married and had two adorable children Max and Sydney. It was after the birth of her daughter, Sydney, that Jenny was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer.
I will never forget the call I got from her that day. “Mom, I am writing a book!” What? In surprise and awe, I pointed out to her one minor detail: “Jenny, you have never written before, I said.” Jenny bravely replied, “I know, mom, but I can do this while I go through my chemo.”
Jenny would go to Starbucks near her home to write after she dropped the kids at school. “It helps me mom”, she would explain to me. Jenny was so excited about and fully alive with anticipation for her book “Butterfly Hill”. The idea for the story came from her son Max describing the butterflies he felt in his stomach as they ventured over the hill by their farm house in Westchester, New York.
Jenny’s children’s book “Butterfly Hill” was birthed in a little coffee shop. She had never been an author before this, but she became one sitting in that coffee shop, putting her heart and pen to paper.
Jenny passed away on December 4th, 2004. Her inner grace and spirit; her love for her children; and her unrelenting spirit drove her forward, leaving behind her notes titled Butterfly Hill. Our promise to Jenny was that we would try to publish her book.
After nearly ten years of waiting and praying, “Butterfly Hill” will be published this month by Nelson Publishing Company. Jenny’s sister, Kimberly, picked up Jenny’s notes and beautifully and lovingly finished her sister’s dream, assisted by the hard work and dedication of my husband, Denny. Both worked diligently to see Jenny’s project through to completion. Only by the grace of God did this book become a reality. We have never doubted for even a minute that God’s hand was on this project, along with Jenny’s.
My prayer is that Jenny’s life will inspire you, as much as it has inspired me. Jenny would tell you to live each day to the fullest and that life is a gift to be cherished.
Inside each of us are unlimited possibilities. Like a butterfly, we all must spread our wings to live life to its fullest, making the best possible use of our time here!