AdventHealth unveils Angel of Hope
By PAMELA GRANT
Losing anyone is hard, but a parent losing their child can be devastating.
A local mother, Alyssa Fee, spoke with AdventHealth about building an Angel of Hope statue at their facility in Killeen. She was inspired after seeing an Angel of Hope statue in Dothan, Alabama, where her parents live.
On Saturday, she was able to see that inspiration come to life, when AdventHealth Central Texas held the official Angel of Hope Dedication on Saturday.
The angel statue, located outside of the surgery center behind the hospital, stands as a symbol of hope for all parents and loved ones who have experienced the passing of a child.
Behind the statue is a large mural filled with colorful butterflies. Surrounding the statue is a small garden with benches.
The statue was donated by Fee, as well as her parents, Rex and Connie Atkins, and her grandmother Sandra Miller. The statue is in honor of Alyssa’s daughter, Lauren Mae, who was stillborn at 37 weeks at AdventHealth in Killeen.
Alyssa talked about how hard it was for her and Harley, Lauren’s father, to lose their daughter. But, she said that seeing and visiting the statue in Dothan helped to give her peace.
“When we lost our daughter, it was the place where my parents went because it was the middle of Covid and they weren’t able to travel right away. So, they actually went to the Angel of Hope in Dothan and it was a special place where they could remember Lauren, think about Lauren—it was just sort of a place of peace and grieving.
“I thought it was really beautiful what it did for the community and those who have lost children of any age,” said Fee. “We wanted to create a place like this in Killeen in honor of Lauren.”
Fee said that so many people experience loss, and it can be hard to talk about. She said that, hopefully by having the statue there, they will be able to talk about it more or even just be able to come there to think about it without judgement.
Fee said that the angel is so that, “Our children will be forever remembered, forever missed, and forever loved.”
Words to that effect are emblazoned on the base of the Angel of Hope Statue.
Harley Fee talked about how, being in the military, he may have to move far away from where his daughter is buried and he hopes that wherever he goes they have a place like the Angel of Hope.
He said that it allows other members of the military—or even civilians—who had to move away from where their child is buried to be able to have a place where they can go to honor their memory and remember their child.
“We want a place where everyone can go, whether they have a gravesite or not,” said Alyssa Fee.
Alyssa approached AdventHealth about donating the statue and making a place for it. She said that AdventHealth was excited to approve the project.
The pedestal for the statue was donated in memory of Lizzie Tennyson by her grandparents, Chuck and Cindy Davis.
Chad Davis lost his daughter, Lizzie, three years ago to leukemia.
He said that seeing the statue has helped give him a sense of peace. His parents donated to create the pedestal for the statue.
Davis said that he had thumb surgery earlier that week and said that seeing the statue meant a lot to him.
“It made me feel like she was here watching over me, making sure I was good,” said Davis.
Kevin Roberts, President and CEO of AdventHealth, said that he hopes that the new statue can help to give those people a place to heal.
“What a perfect illustration of hope and angels,” said Roberts about the statue. “We’re a faith-based medical center, so we are constantly trying to lift our eyes up as we serve the community and bring hope and healing. It’s a beautiful thing, and I especially like that it came from one of our patients…It will be the most meaningful to those that we couldn’t help. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s very personal and very profound. This gives them a space to meditate, to reflect, to remember.”
“For these families, it is a tough loss and to be able to have a place for them to come, grieve, and talk to their child just means a lot,” said Tony Mino, Foundation Director.
He said that making the project a reality was very important to him, and it means a lot to him to be able to bring a smile to the faces of the parents who have lost so much.
Nicole Allsopp, Director of Maternal Child Health, talked about the darker side of her job saying that 10-20 percent of pregnancies end in loss. She said that the nurses carry that weight of those losses with them every day. Allsopp said that angel and the butterflies on the mural can help deal with those losses.
“Each one of the butterflies on our wall represent a sign of hope for our families and a reminder that their angels are living together with our God in a place of freedom and beauty that often isn’t present in this world,” said Allsopp.
On Sunday, October 22 at 3 p.m., AdventHealth will be holding a Bereavement Ceremony at the statue’s location.
It is a time to join other families who have experienced the loss of a child. They will honor those lives by releasing butterflies in their memory.