Collin Raye's first No. 1 hit, "Love, Me," is a poignant love story about two grandparents who wait for each other — in this life and the next. But when he became a grandparent himself, the singer and songwriter decided to tell a different kind of love story: this time, about a grandfather and his granddaughter.

It's one that would touch even the Grinch's heart. Raye wrote "She's With Me" for his granddaughter Haley — who had a debilitating neurological disorder — before she died in 2010, at the age of nine. Below, Raye shares the story behind the song, which he wrote on an airplane in about 20 minutes, in his own words. (Editor's Note: This interview took place in 2009, prior to Haley's death.)

Haley inspired me to write the song. In life, bless her little baby heart, she can't do anything. She's totally helpless in every way: She can't hold her head up, she can't sit up, she can't roll over, she can't scratch if she itches, she can't let you know if she's in pain. It's just a miserable little life she has ... But, I always feel like it's such an honor to take her places and be her representative on this earth and say, "Oh, hey, she's with me."

The idea hit me. I just realized that when she leaves this earth, she's going straight to Heaven. There's no stop-off point for that baby. She's the most perfect human being that I've ever encountered. How could she have ever sinned or even thought about anything bad? So she's perfect and clean. And at the gates of Heaven, I'm hoping she'll be standing there with me, and when He looks at me and says, "I don't know, bud, we got a lot to think about here before we let you step in" ... I'm hoping because she was with me, and because I was her liaison in this world, that she'll be mine and get me into the gates of Heaven. I hope I can hold on to her little coattail and let her say, "Let him in, he's with me" ...

I don't write every week — I write when God gives me an idea that I think is worthy of working on. And I carried the idea around for about six months, but I just didn't sit down to do it, and I waited until I was overwhelmed. And whenever I become overwhelmed, the song comes out fast ... My rhymes and my lyric, my poetry – it just comes out.

This story was originally written by Pat Gallagher, and revised by Angela Stefano.

Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days: Country Artists Who Draw Inspiration From Their Grandparents