This touching song from Chris Cornell is a reminder that our late loved ones will always stay in our hearts as long as we remember them. Cornell adapted the tune from a poem written Rory de la Rosa, a fan from Texas who lost his 6-year-old daughter, Ainslee, to cancer in 2008. De la Rosa wrote it from Ainslee's perspective; she assures her family she's free from pain and helps them cope with her death by promising she's not completely gone. The song was available as a free download on Cornell's website in April 2009.
De la Rosa, who was diagnosed with cancer himself shortly after his daughter's passing, was in hospice care when he contacted Cornell, explaining that he and his daughter bonded over the singer's music. Not long after, de La Rosa sent him the poem "I Promise It's Not Goodbye" in the hope Cornell would turn it into a song.
"It was actually tough to sing the first couple times I recorded it because you feel the weight of the subject matter," Cornell explained. "It also gave me this hope in humanity that somebody like Rory can live through this and still write this beautiful, positive poem."
Cornell and de la Rosa kept in touch through texts and phone calls. The singer recalled: "After speaking to him I knew we would stay in touch. I think he is an extremely brave man and has been nothing but a gentleman in every conversation we have had, never once complaining even when I know he may be having a bad day. To the contrary, he has sent me messages that have lifted my spirit at times when I was down and without knowing, reminded me how trivial my few troubles really are. What he did to lift my spirits the most was to send me his poem. What I read gave me such a sense of relief that Rory had an insight. A strength and hope that was inspiring beyond measure."
Rory de la Rosa died on December 11, 2009.
In December 2012, grief-stricken fans sought out the tune for solace after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. In response to the tragedy, Cornell made the song available on his website as a free download and offered links for donations in memory of the victims.