Musical memorial to Sophie Cooper

By Bob Unruh

Jason and Carolyn Cooper speaking to KNSD

Grammy-winning artist Steve Vaus, who has performed as Buck Howdy, has handled a long list of musical projects in his career, including those that have plucked the heartstrings of listeners, such as his recent “State of the Union,” which challenges America to remember God.

But his latest assignment was one of his toughest: Creating a memorial to a dying little girl.

“Knowing that the timeline was so short, I wasn’t sure I could do it,” he told KNSD-TV in San Diego in an interview about the “Surrounded by Angels” song that now etches in history forever the hopes and dreams of Sophie Cooper, who died after inexplicably losing brain function.

“[I] prayed a lot. Cried a bit, and waited for inspiration,” he said.

The result was, according to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego, which facilitated the family’s request for a country song, lyrics that capture Sophie.

The song:

I wish I was a normal little girl,
Chasing butterflies, dressed in pink, my hair in shiny curls.
But I’m different and that’s all right with me,
‘Cause I’ve seen things that normal kids won’t ever get to see.
How we’re surrounded by angels every day and night,
And they hold our hands and wrap us in their arms so tight.
Sometimes they hide their wings and their haloes too,
Still I see angels watching over me and you.

Rachel Gershwin, development director for the foundation, told WND that the request was highly unusual, but Sophie’s parents, Jason and Carolyn Cooper, wanted a song through which to remember. The family had enjoyed music, and country music especially had calmed their daughter during her hospitalization shortly before she died.

The song can be heard and downloaded at this link:

Gershwin said Vaus is known as a longtime supporter of the Make-A-Wish organization, and he was contacted.

“They didn’t have a specific writer,” she said. “But [Vaus] is a supporter of Make-A-Wish and we knew him, and we knew that he was a local man and he had the talent.”

She said the request was “completely unusual.”

Much more common is for the child to make a request for a trip, or an event, but the organization works with each family’s circumstances and felt it appropriate to respond to the family’s desire.

Steve Vaus

“They wanted a tribute to her life, and also to share the story in the hope that the song will inspire others to be grateful for their children, value life,” she said.

She said Vaus was able to visit with the family, which has an “amazing strong faith in God,” to gather details about Sophie for his song.

The second verse of the song:

I know there’s lots of things you’d dreamed I’d do,
Call you mommy, call you daddy. Do a wedding dance with you.
Up in heaven, God will make me well.
So when you get here we can dance, all the stories I could tell.
How we’re surrounded by angels, every day and night,
And they hold our hands and wrap us in their arms so tight.
Sometimes they hide their wings and their haloes too,
Still I see angels watching over me and you.

It concludes with:

Sophie’s surrounded by angels, and they fill the sky,
They take us straight to heaven, and the perfect light.
She’ll be in Jesus’ arms, and grandma’s too.
There’ll be a brand new angel watching over you.

Sophie’s father, Jason, told the San Diego station that looking at his little girl was like looking into the face of an angel.

And her mother told of the “difficult” time for the family.

But Vaus expressed gratitude: “I had an opportunity to be Sophie’s voice.”

The San Diego Hospice published a special thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation for the “special song.”

The KNSD report: