Angel of Hope
The Phoenix Angel of Hope
After suffering the sudden death of our 19 year old son, Hunter, a friend sent us a copy of the The Christmas Box. She thought the story would be of help as we struggled through the healing process. My husband and I were so taken with the story and little did we know that the book would be the catalyst for an incredible journey throughout the coming years. Approximately a year after reading The Christmas Box, we had the opportunity to visit Salt Lake City. I was determined that during our stay, we would make a visit to the City Cemetery and find The Christmas Box Angel. On a cold and snowy December afternoon we wound our way through the City Cemetery in search of the Angel. Once we located the Angel and approached her, we were enveloped by a feeling neither of us will ever forget. She was adorned with white flowers, notes and little mementos. With her wings outstretched and her angelic face upturned to the heavens we were both so overcome by her powerful presence. For the first time since we had lost Hunter we both felt at peace and were strengthened by a great warmth of love and hope. Culver and I knew at that moment that we had to bring an Angel of Hope to our Phoenix community to share with other parents and families that had lost children.
We returned to Phoenix in January and our journey began. Our initial phone call to The Christmas Box Foundation introduced us to Lisa Johnson, a true angel whose encouragement launched our efforts. Lisa promised that miracles would follow, but little did we know of the miracles we would encounter along the way. All the pieces fell together effortlessly, or so it seemed to us. The Arizona Community Foundation helped us establish the Phoenix Angel of Hope Fund and in our efforts to find the perfect home for our Angel we were led to the Hansen Family, owners of several mortuaries throughout the valley. They graciously embraced our idea and generously donated a beautiful and perfect site at their Desert Hills Memorial Park The Hansen family’s devotion and the commitment from so many of their staff members to our project was a true blessing and continues to this day. The entire site plan and design was enhanced by the creative efforts of another bereaved parent and friend, renowned architect, Bob Bacon. Culver and I continued to work diligently in our effort to raise the funds necessary to bring the Angel and the development of the site to fruition. The miracles did, in fact, continue and we were able to raise the amount needed for the successful completion of our effort. We were so touched by the outpouring of support from so many friends, community members and other bereaved parents from all over the state. In less than a year we were ready for the dedication. The Phoenix Angel of Hope was dedicated on Dec 12, 2004. With over 1,000 in attendance we were further blessed to have Richard Paul Evans, Lisa, Jared Fairbanks and Richard’s father, Dave, also in attendance.
The journey was incredible and continues to this day. The people we have met, the stories we have share and the healing that has taken place along the way has helped not only our family, but so many others as well.
Our Angel of Hope stands in the center of a uniquely terraced surrounding. Trees, flowers and benches adorn the site. Stretching along the terraced walls are granite plaques etched with each individual child’s name, birth and death date. In the background one can hear the gentle babbling of water flowing from the 3 granite water fountains. Mountain peaks reach out in the distance. Our Angel of Hope has truly become a place for so many to grieve, hope and heal. We know the miracles will continue.