Dave Richardson was a Canadian police officer at the time he wrote the lyrics for this song. The words were originally a poem written for his girl friend, which he passed on to his close friend David Foster. Richardson explained his lyrical inspiration in an interview: "In 1970 I was dating a nurse, whom I would eventually marry in 1971 (it only lasted four years, though - we were both not ready for such a commitment). One night I went to pick her up at her apartment, as we had planned on going out. When she opened the door I saw that she was upset to the point of tears. She still had a housecoat on and had her hair wrapped in a towel after a shower. She told me that two elderly ladies she had been caring for in the hospital had died that day at work, and she felt terribly sad about it, as she had come to know them fairly well over a period of time. Anyway, she more or less vented her feelings and I just listened. After she was finished, she thanked me for listening, and said she would get ready for our date. She went into the bedroom and closed the door, and I sat and watched TV waiting for her to come out. When she didn't return, I knocked on the door but she didn't answer, so I went in to find her fast asleep on the bed, still in her housecoat and with the towel still wrapped around her head. I guess she was just exhausted after her emotional day. So, I put a blanket over her, being careful not to wake her, and went home and wrote the song in about fifteen minutes or so. It was absolutely inspired. I have always felt that all I did was hold the pen in my hand, and that God did the writing.
The 'Be careful how you touch her, for she'll awaken' part, refers to when I put the blanket over her. 'The way she's always paying, for a debt she never owes…' - It wasn't her fault that the two ladies had died, and yet she felt so badly for them that she was crying." ( Source Davidfoster.net