"It's a funny thing to feel so complete and not have her here," says the Grammy-winning country star

By Nick Maslow
March 11, 2020 09:00 AM
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After her brave battle with cervical cancer captured hearts across the nation, country singer Joey Feek died at the age of 40 on March 4, 2016, leaving behind husband Rory Feek and their daughter Indiana.

But in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Rory — who rose to stardom alongside Joey as the Grammy-winning duo Joey+Rory — says he still feels his late wife’s love “everywhere” on their farm in Columbia, Tennessee, where he raises their 6-year-old girl with help from his sisters and adult daughters.

“I still feel like I’m 100 percent married and in a full, regular marriage,” Rory, 54, says one day before the four-year anniversary of Joey’s death. “The only difference is that she’s just not around, but it’s a funny thing to feel so complete and not have her here. She was such an amazing gift and filled my life so much that she continues to fill it.”

Rory reveals he doesn’t see a “reason not to” wear his wedding ring, adding, “She’s still wearing hers.”

For more on Rory Feek’s life after loss, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

Rory Feek
| Credit: Hollis Bennett

The New York Times bestseller shares his family’s ups and downs on This Life I Live, a new docuseries inspired by his blog that airs Sundays on RFD-TV. One of the changes explored in the show is his return to the music studio, where he previews a new ballad about overcoming heartbreak. “Will you let somebody love you in spite of the scars?” he croons.

Though Rory “can’t really even imagine” dating again, he admits, “I’m open to anything God wants to have happen. Absolutely. Do I see it on the horizon? No, but I want what He wants.”

RELATED VIDEO: Rory Feek Opens Up About His New TV Show — His Blog ‘Come to Life’

These days Rory’s mornings begin with a walk alongside Indiana to the one-room Hardison Mill Schoolhouse, which the community built on his farm using about $100,000 that came in from across the nation after Joey’s death. Indy, who has Down syndrome, learns alongside all kinds of classmates from the area.

“We needed to come up with another plan since Joey wasn’t going to be able to homeschool Indy,” he says, calling the school “an amazing opportunity” that’s serving Indy well.

Watch the full episode of People Features: Rory Feek, streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device

Rory and Indiana Feek
| Credit: Hollis Bennett

After dropping Indy off at school, Rory often heads to downtown Columbia, Tennessee, famously known as Muletown, where he has a new restaurant and musical venue, Marcy Jo’s Muletown. Rory and his sister Candy were inspired by Pottsville’s Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse, the diner Joey once ran with his other sister Marcy, and opened a “more upscale version” with a stage, fulfilling Joey’s dream. Now fans can catch Rory and other musicians taking the stage for songs and story time on special performance nights, order items like Joey’s Avocado Toast, and buy Joey and Marcy’s cookbook.

Next door is his buddy Matt Johnson’s Muletown Roasted Coffee house, where Rory records his new music. On the same block is a soundstage where Rory, RFD-TV’s Chief Creative Officer, produces programs for the network.

Joey and Rory Feek in 2013
| Credit: Denise Truscello/Wireimage

Reflecting on all the changes, Rory tells PEOPLE, “We’ve settled into a really wonderful life.”

Now Rory says he’s focused on making the most of his blessings, especially as he raises Indy.

“Joey was a lot better at being present than I am,” he says, “but I’m getting better at it.”