AN eight-year campaign by a Palmyra, Mo., woman to create a memorial garden to serve as a place of hope and healing for anyone who has suffered the loss of a child is closer to becoming a reality.
Tori Greving, a nurse practitioner at Hannibal Regional Hospital, started working on the garden project in 2010, about six years after she lost a stillborn daughter with less than a month to go in her pregnancy.
Soon after losing her daughter, Greving said she heard about an Angel of Hope memorial garden in the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles. She told Herald-Whig Staff Writer Edward Husar that her family laid a memorial brick there that fall and then attended a candlelight vigil that December. That experience persuaded her to wage a personal campaign to raise the necessary funds to build a similar garden in her hometown to bring "peace, hope, tranquility" to grieving families.
Now, after raising close to $35,000, Greving's perseverance is paying off, with the garden scheduled to open later this year on land donated by the Palmyra Parks and Recreation Department in Flower City Park.
It has truly been a community effort to help make a personal dream come true.
Volunteers last month installed a three-piece granite base that will be topped this spring with a 4 1/2-foot-high bronze statue of an angel -- which cost $14,500 and is in storage in Quincy, Ill. -- that will serve as the garden centerpiece.
In addition, an octagon-shaped brick walkway around the monument, memorial benches and flowering plants, and a small fountain will be incorporated this spring.
Orders for commemorative bricks, costing $125 each and bearing the names of lost children, can be placed through the angelofhopepalmyra.org website. So far more than 25 bricks have been sold.
"With the loss that we had in 2004, it was the first time that I didn't feel like I was the only one who had gone through what we went though," Greving told The Herald-Whig. "I know the benefits. I just can't wait to be able to share that."
The idea for the Angel of Hope statue came from the 1993 bestselling novel "The Christmas Box." In it, author Richard Paul Evans wrote of an angel statue visited by a mother mourning the loss of her child. The book gives a description of the monument, which is of a childlike angel with upturned palms and outstretched wings. The word "hope" appears on the angel's right wing.
When real-life grieving parents began seeking out the statue described in the book, Evans commissioned a monument to be made and erected in Salt Lake City on Dec. 6, 1994, corresponding with the date of the child's death in the novel.
Others across the country began buying the same bronze angel statue, placing it in parks and outdoor spaces. There are now Angel of Hope gardens at more than 120 locations across the United States.
Thanks to the efforts of Greving, along with community financial and volunteer support, Palmyra will soon join that list.