'For Better or Worse': Joey and Rory Feek's Love Grows Stronger in the Face of Her Terminal Cancer
"I lie beside her at night and I hold her hand and listen to her breathe. And I pray," writes Rory
Love has united Joey and Rory Feek in song and marriage – and now in her final days as she succumbs to terminal cancer.
“For better or worse. I said those words to her at the alter on June 15, 2002,” wrote Rory in an emotional post on his blog This Life I Live on Oct. 31. “But today and each day since our wedding day has been my opportunity to show her that I mean those words. And I do mean them.”
But now “thin and frail,” 40-year-old Joey can no longer create new memories with Rory and their family – including daughters Indiana, 20 months, and Heidi and Hopie, his adult children from a previous relationship – in their serene yard. Instead, Rory joins her in bed, where he shares the many thoughtful messages from people their love story has touched.
“We have just lived our lives and sang our songs, and often thought that we are making no difference at all. But thousands of blog and Facebook comments and emails tell us otherwise,” he wrote. “I read them to Joey and the tears stream down her cheeks and mine. And once more we smile and look at each other – in awe of this extraordinary, ordinary life we live.”
When Joey has needed her sleep during her brave fight with cancer, “I lie beside her at night and I hold her hand and listen to her breathe,” Rory wrote. “And I pray.”
The Feeks’ infectious chemistry started lighting up country music festivals, red carpets and award shows after they competed on CMT’s Can You Duet show in 2008. As Rory braces for life without the woman who became much more than his singing partner, he’s looking back on their storybook romance.
“Oh how beautiful and full of life my sweet bride was then,” he wrote of a commercial they made in 2008. “We had only been married a few years and had no idea what was ahead of us – the heights we would ascend to, and the valleys we would have to cross.”
While the duo’s journey is captured in their photos, songs and videos spanning nearly a decade, the same cannot be said for Joey and her daughter Indiana, who was born months before Joey’s cervical cancer diagnosis and radical hysterectomy in 2014. Still, Rory is trying to help his wife find ways to have a presence in their baby girl’s life after she’s gone.
“Later this evening, when it was just Joey and I, Joey read into a couple of ‘recordable’ books to Indiana,” Rory penned in a post titled “An Answer to Prayer” on Monday. “The books are gifts from fans and friends that seemed to know how important it is to connect today to tomorrow for our little girl.”
He continued, “Joey’s hope is that our little one will be able to sit on my lap in days to come and turn pages and hear her mama reading to her.”
The musician reflected on having to watch the mother to his children suffer in a entry titled “Enough” on Oct. 23.
“I’m not going to tell you that I’m okay with this because ‘God has a bigger plan.’ Or that ‘we’ll understand His bigger purpose somewhere down the line.’ That logic doesn’t really work for me right now,” he wrote. “I’m not angry at God. I’m not angry with anyone. I’m just disappointed. I hoped that Joey would get to be one of the lucky ones that somehow overcome stage-4 cancer and get to hear words like ‘remission’ or ‘cure,’ instead of ‘I’m so sorry.’ ”
Yet, as Rory noted, “It’s hard for me to feel slighted, when I know that the career that Joey and I have had – this amazing last seven years or so – has only been, because God reached out His powerful hand and chose us. He lifted us up from our little farm. And let us see and do things beyond our wildest dreams.”