Even in her darkest moments, country singer Joey Feek has found light in her family.
Joey, one half of the country-bluegrass duo Joey + Rory with her husband, Rory, was recently admitted into hospice care after ending treatment for colorectal cancer in late October.
"We prayed. We all prayed. "God answered,” Rory wrote on his blog, This Life I live. "Not the answer we hoped for, but the answer He has given us…Joey is at peace with where she is and where she's going. So am I."
At her side are her husband, her two stepdaughters, Heidi and Hopie, and the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Indiana, as well as Joey’s parents. As the family comes together, we’re inspired by some of their most heartwarming moments.
A Mother’s Love: As Joey enters hospice, Rory writes that her eyes still “light up” every time she sees Indy, and vice versa. “Yesterday I sat her down in front of her mama and they smiled and played and loved each other the way that only mamas and their little ones can,” Rory says.
“Afterwards, when Indy got sleepy, Joey held her and sang ‘In The Garden’ and other hymns as she softly stroked her silky-blonde hair,” he adds.
Bedtime Stories: Her daughters will have the blessing of their mother’s music to hear her voice long after Joey is gone. Still, she is reading into “recordable books” for her youngest daughter. “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,” Rory explains.
“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,” her husband says. “It was heartbreakingly beautiful to see and hear.”
Matching Haircuts: After deciding to shave her head -- which Joey gave Rory the honor of buzzing -- Rory says, “She looked different than the rest of us in the room and she knew it. She was strong of course, and forced a slight smile on her face, but it was a heart-breaking smile that had some fear beneath it.”
“The next day something strange happened... Her best-friend Julie’s hair fell off,” he writes. “And then last night, the same thing happened to all three of Joey’s sisters… Even her little eight-year-old niece Alyssa’s hair fell off. All of a sudden, Joey didn’t look different than the people around her anymore. And a big beautiful smile came across her face and everyone else’s too.”
With This Ring: Rory recalls that at their wedding, Joey not only put a ring on her new husband’s finger, but gave rings to Heidi and Hopie too. “A symbol of her commitment to them, like her commitment to me,” he says.
Thirteen years later, the girls came home to start saying goodbye to their mom. Of the touching reunion, Rory writes, “From the porch we all smiled because we knew in that instant, that no matter what happens, Joey will always be with us. She’ll be in our little Indiana’s smile… and in our hearts forever.”
Choosing Life: After finding out that Joey’s cancer had not gone away, Rory says, “We came home. Not to die. But to live. To put our hands in each others and sit out on the back porch and watch the sun set as our sweet little baby girl plays on a blanket in front of us. To bask in the glory of the beautiful life He’s blessed us with, and try not to question why we can’t have more of it together.”
Though the doctor gave the couple as estimate on how much time Joey had left, they chose to not think about the end. “We both looked at the calendar that hangs by our kitchen door, then I took the calendar off the wall and threw in the trash can,” he says. “So we don’t have forever. We’ve got right now. And that’s enough.”
Fabulous Forty: For Joey’s 40th birthday, Rory got his bride a horse. He says she’s wanted one ever since her childhood horse, Velvet, died, but, as he explains, “She is so incredibly responsible that it just never made any sense for her or us to have one… our life was too busy, and we didn’t have room, and hay is expensive, and lots of other really good reasons.”
“I’m not sure it makes any more sense today… but I think sometimes that life doesn’t have to make sense,” he says of finally making the purchase. “And it might not seem like the best timing, but it is. Because the best time to love someone and make their dreams come true is today.”
Potty Training: Even amid the chaos of cancer treatment, Joey’s No.1 priority was being a good mom to Indy. On the trip to Joey’s cancer treatment center, Rory recalls making plenty of pit stops. “Not your normal, every day bathroom breaks. These are Indiana potty-training breaks,” he says.
He then shares this adorable anecdote: “Joey has had Indiana ‘going’ in her little wooden potty chair since she was about 11 months old (a fan of our tv show made the chair for her and brought to one of our concerts last year). Joey always sits her down on her chair and starts reading to her and next thing you know, well... mission accomplished. So when you’re on a long drive, and Indy starts showing signs of needing to go on the road, Joey has me pull over and get the potty chair out, so they can do their little routine. It’s the funniest, strangest, sweetest thing. Especially when this time, it’s in the middle of nowhere and starting to rain, so I had to get out the umbrella for them.”
A Daughter’s Love: Before undergoing surgery, Rory took this picture of his wife and his daughter. “I took this of pic of Joey and Indy at the hotel before we left for the hospital,” he captioned it. “She was telling her mama that she was gonna be brave…with a kiss.”
“Some roads we go down in life are smooth and easy, and some we take are rough and rocky,” he continues. “This one’s gonna be a little bumpy and scary at times… but we’re gonna go down it together the same way we’ve gone down all the ones before – hand in hand – taking it one moment, one hour, and one day at a time.”
Family First: Joey’s reaction to her cancer diagnosis was not to give up, but to continue providing for her family. “As I write this my wife is in her garden, the baby on a blanket near her. She’s weeding her squash, and broccoli and kale, and the cucumbers that have just poked their heads up out of the soil,” Rory writes in a post shortly after they received the news.
“All the while, she’s growing healthy food for her husband and baby to eat. Food that God makes, not science. The kind that you can’t put a price on, at least not in a grocery store. That’s one of her passions,” he writes. “She doesn’t do it because it’s easy (especially for her right now), she does it because it’s important to her.”
Now, find out what Blake Shelton told ET about the Feeks' “inspirational” courage during Joey’s cancer battle: