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Original lyrics of "Clouds" inspirational song found in Minn.

Zach Sobiech, 17, plays guitar as his friend, Samantha "Sammy" Brown, foreground, sings the song "Star Hopping," that they wrote earlier that night, at a recording studio in Lakeland, Minn., on December 3, 2012. (Ben Garvin / Pioneer Press)1 / 2
Laura Sobiech, the mother of Zach Sobiech, recently found the lyrics of her son's hit song "Clouds." The lyrics had been missing for 4 1/2 years. (Courtesy of Laura Sobiech)2 / 2

STILLWATER, Minn.—The original lyrics of the hit song "Clouds" — handwritten on a sheet of notebook paper — disappeared after Zach Sobiech's funeral at the Church of St. Michael in Stillwater in 2013.

The lyrics were part of a display at the church and were tucked away with other items for transport back to the Sobiechs' house, said Laura Sobiech, Zach's mother.

"My sister took the lyrics, held them up and said 'I'm putting them in here,' " she said. "We all said, 'OK, that's a nice, safe place,' and then we all forgot where it was."

Sobiech, a student at Stillwater Area High School, died in May 2013 at age 18 from complications related to a rare form of bone cancer. After being told that he had months — maybe a year — to live, he began writing and recording songs of farewell, including "Clouds," a tune he wrote for his girlfriend.

A video of "Clouds" has been viewed more than 13.4 million times on YouTube, and the song hit No. 1 on the iTunes chart. Money raised from the song has gone to the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund, which has collected almost $1.5 million for the Children's Cancer Research Fund.

Beginning the year of Zach Sobiech's death, about 5,000 people have gathered at the Mall of America annually at Christmastime to sing "Clouds" and raise money for the fund; this year's event will be Friday. "It's a beautiful thing for us to see that our son's song has become part of Minnesota's holiday tradition," Laura Sobiech said.

Rob and Laura Sobiech spent 4K years searching for the lyrics.

"We even pulled everything out of Zach's room ... and looked through every book, and it wasn't there," she said.

A few weeks ago, Laura Sobiech went to the basement to search for a small cross to give to a neighbor who had just been diagnosed with brain cancer. The cross and other gifts to Zach had been packed up and stored in a box, she said.

Sobiech said she found the cross — and a Bible that a group of schoolchildren had given to Zach.

"Each had highlighted their favorite Bible verse for him," Laura Sobiech said. "It just happened to catch my eye, and there was a piece of notebook paper in it. I went upstairs and said to my husband, 'Guess what I just found?'

"Rob said, 'I don't know. A million bucks?' I said, 'Pretty close.'"

Sobiech said she plans to have the lyrics framed.

"It's the unexpected times when he shows up that make him feel close again," she said. "Both Rob and I are feeling lighter this year. We're actually looking forward to the holidays. It will always be different, and it will never be as good as when Zach was here, but it's still good."


•What: 'Clouds' Choir for a Cause

•Where: Mall of America Rotunda, Bloomington

•When: 6 to 7:15 p.m. Friday

•Special guests: Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir and Bloomington Symphony Orchestra

•For information: