Alive In Me: A Song 20 Years in the Making

Jun 19, 2020Music

❤️ A song twenty years in the making. The song that has taken me 20 YEARS to find the words. Ever since my Daddy died, I have wanted to write a song for him. A song to honor him and celebrate him. But every time I tried, I could never find the words. I could never find any words at all. It was like a locked-up section of my heart that would not open, no matter how much I wanted it to. I wanted to write him a song more than anything because if anyone deserved a song, it was him. If there was ever a life to be celebrated, it was his.

Then earlier this year, it finally happened. Out of nowhere. 

A few days after the 20th anniversary of him being gone, I was driving home from an event, alone in my car, thinking about him and reflecting on the fun times we shared together. Then all the sudden I was flooded with memories — memories that had been locked away for twenty years — that I hadn’t been able to remember until right then. And then something surprised me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Instead of being overcome with sadness, I was overcome with gratefulness. 

Grateful for how well he loved me because it is shaping the type of parent I am today. Grateful for how much he loved to travel and all the family trips we took because it’s the reason I love to travel and the reason Jack and I have explored the world. Grateful for how goofy and crazy and funny he was because he’s the reason I love to laugh and he’s where my sense of humor first came from. Grateful for how affectionately he adored my mother because he modeled for me what a sweet, loving husband looks like, and that’s the reason I didn’t settle for less than someone like that for myself. Grateful for all the snuggles and hugs he gave me and how he made me feel safe, because now I snuggle my babies the same way. Grateful for all the million, tiny things he did that forever shaped who I am. 

And in that moment, I realized it was all those “tiny” things that were actually the most important things of all. And it finally hit me: he’s alive in me. His legacy lives in me every single day. His heart is still beating in me every moment I live and breathe. When I think about all these things, yes it makes me sad, because I miss him and I wish he was still here to share life with and talk to and laugh with. But the far more overwhelming feeling I have is GRATEFUL. To be loved by a Daddy like that is a GIFT.  Perhaps the greatest gift a person can ever experience.

Even though our time was cut short, it was enough time for him to make a forever impact on me — an impact that will echo for generations.  And THAT is something to celebrate. That is a perspective that can only be gained after twenty years have passed.  

This song was worth the wait. This song has given me the space to cry my eyes out and laugh and remember and heal and say THANK YOU. And for the first time ever, there is finally this beautiful, perfectly resolved bow on the story of my Daddy, his life and his death, and I can finally see the beauty rising up from the ashes. I am SO excited to finally be able to share ALIVE IN ME with all of you! ❤️

Download/Stream Alive in Me


Verse 1
It’s been twenty years since you went away
So why does it feel like yesterday?
They said time would heal my wounds
So why does it still sting missing you?

So much has changed
But you’re still here in so many ways

Chorus 1
Every time I hold my baby girl, I feel your arms
Every time I watch her laugh and twirl, I see your smile
I just wish that she could see it too
Oh, how sweet it was being loved by you
Every time I board another plane, it takes me back
To all the family trips that we would take, the fun we had
It breaks my heart to think of all you’ve missed
But your heart has been beating in me ever since
Cause you are alive in me

Verse 2
I’m four years old standing on your feet
We’re dancing around so wild and free
It’s time for bed, you snuggle next to me
We talk about our day as I drift off to sleep

So much has changed
But you’re still here in so many ways

Chorus 2
Every time I pay the water bill, I see your desk
And think of how you cared for us so well, so selfless
You worked so hard you treated us like queens
When you were there, we never had to worry about a thing
Every time I trim my Christmas tree, it takes me back
To 1989 on Christmas Eve, I hear your laugh
It breaks my heart to think of all you’ve missed
But your heart has been beating in me ever since
Cause you are alive in me

There are fewer things more precious in this world
Than knowing what it means to be a Daddy’s Girl

Chorus 3
Every time I see snow fall again, my world stands still
You and me are building a snowman, sledding down that hill
Though our time was nowhere near enough
I am who I am today because of how you loved
And someday I’ll come running through those gates and hold you tight
And thank you for the million little ways you changed my life
But until then, these memories I’ll keep
Forever in my heart, you’ll always be
Cause you are alive in me
Forever you are alive in me.

Words & Music by Shelly E. Johnson © 2020 Shelly E. Johnson Music, Inc. 🎵

Recorded and Produced by Sean Hill at Uphill Studios.
Mixed by Daniel Kinner at Kreativ Productions.
Mastered by Bob Boyd at Ambient Digital Mastering.

Music Video Directed and Produced by David Nobles.
Artwork and Graphic Design by Kelly Morris at Franklin Lane Creative

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