Just before midnight on November 7th, 2018, a man walked into Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California with a handgun. Less than an hour later, 12 people were dead and multiple injured. Among the 12 victims, the youngest, was 18-year-old Pepperdine student Alaina Housley.

In the months following Alaina’s sudden death, family and friends who were close to Alaina began their grieving process. Ceremonies were organized, fundraisers were held, a nonprofit organization was founded, and loved ones continued to process the traumatic loss they were forced to deal with. Alaina’s father, Arik Housley, came up with the idea to express the ways he senses his late daughter reaching out to him through a piece of art. After meeting with his friend, American singer Skylar Grey, they decided to turn his vision into a reality. Thus, the song “Calling from the Heavens” was produced in honor of Alaina Housley.
In the lyrics of the song, the pain described about losing a loved one to a senseless act of violence can be easily interpreted. A line from the first verse of the song sings, “it only takes a moment for it all to change, she was calling on the phone just yesterday.” This is emphasizing how nothing in life is guaranteed, and how you can never know when the last time you see someone you love may be.

Rain is also metaphorically referred to throughout the song. “Sending down a kiss in every drop of rain” is one of multiple lyrics describing the way Alaina’s loved ones sense her presence through changes in weather. Commonly in artwork, rain also symbolizes sadness, melancholy, or depression. The continuous references to rain connect the comfort Alaina’s loved ones find as they search for signs of her spirit to the tragedy of why the song was written in the first place.

Another lyric, “I see her in the mirror there inside my face” illustrates how Alaina’s father is reminded of his late daughter every time he looks in the mirror. While Alaina’s life was ended far too soon, her spirit lives on through pieces of art, movements for change, and even shifts in the weather patterns.

To learn more, visit Alaina’s Voice Foundation: https://alainasvoice.org/

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Emma Webber

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