Laura Sobiech is the mother of late-Zach Sobiech, whose song "Clouds" became a massive hit before he died at age 18. She discusses in a memoir set for release this week how God used her son's battle with a rare form of bone cancer to touch millions around the world.
In the book, titled "Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered a Mom's Small Prayer in a Big Way, Sobiech commemorates the life of her son Zach, who died from osteosarcoma days after his 18th birthday. The last year of his life, Zach wrote the song, "Clouds," which was ranked in top of the Billboard Top 100 list the week following his death, and garnering over 12 million views on YouTube.
Sobiech calls her experience with Zach one of "agony and joy, of struggle and resolution, of turmoil and peace."
"It is a story of God's extraordinary grace being revealed in miraculous and wondrous ways that I could have never imagined. And it is a story of grief and suffering," she told the Huffington Post.
Sobiech writes about Zach's illness, the day she found the lyrics to what would become Zach's hit song, "Clouds," and the pain of deciding she couldn't donate his eyes, which were the only part of his body healthy enough for donation. Yet even through suffering, Sobiech says God was, and always will be, present.
"Suffering can be a channel of grace into the world, if you let it. Suffering gives us the platform of a story that people will listen to," she writes. "Offering the story of our suffering for God to use is a powerful way of unleashing grace into the world. Unbelievable things can happen when we unite our suffering with God's grace."
She reveals that throughout his four year struggle with cancer, Zach taught her a great deal about how life ought to be lived. Sobiech highlights those lessons in her book, saying they can be applied to everyone's lives-- today and every day.
"Zach had an enormous capacity for empathy; the ability to put himself in another's shoes," Sobiech says. " He took the time to pause and understand those he met, no matter how brief that time was; and his ability to connect with people in this way helped him to think outside of himself while battling cancer, often times freeing him from the temptation to despair."
In December, more than 5,000 people gathered at the Mall of America to honor Zach and sing "Clouds." CNN named him one of the five most extraordinary people of 2013.
People from all over the world have contacted the Sobiechs to tell them how much their son's song -- and his story -- have meant to them.
"I recognize that we are so incredibly blessed," Sobiech said. "We have people every day getting in touch with us saying, 'He changed my life.' How much more comfort could a mother get than to know that her son had an effect on so many people?"
A fund established in Zach's name has raised $747,000 for osteosarcoma research so far. With proceeds from "Fly a Little Higher," Sobiech said she hopes it will eventually reach $1 million.
"I just know we are where God wants us to be," she continues. "We never pursued any of this, but what we do is say 'Yes. While the opportunity is here, OK, we'll take it.' "