It is an unfortunate truth that bad things happen to good people. The hardships of life always seem to amplify amongst those whom just wish to carry on and live honestly. To put it bluntly, it’s not fair.
Trials and tribulations can become a crutch, an overwhelming obstacle that could destruct one’s will. How do I overcome? How do I get through this? These questions can be the most difficult to answer. But we can find inspiration to overcome through one source: Joey and Rory.
The married country music duo are the epitome of persevering through difficult times. They once faced the reality that a music career may not happen, but it did. They dreamed of a family, so they made one. And then one fateful day, everything changed.
Holding strong, the duo fought tooth and nail, optimistically approaching Joey’s cervical cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, in a somber post to his blog, This Life I Live, in October of 2015, Rory revealed to fans that Joey’s cancer had returned, spreading to Joey’s colon, and had become terminal.
Joey and Rory are facing mortality in every moment yet still conduct themselves with inspirational grace. If there was ever to be a shining beacon from this situation, it would be life lessons that we all can learn and embrace.
10. Roll With the Punches
When their music career was stagnant, they pushed through. When their label didn’t work out, they created their own. And while some may find the diagnosis of Down Syndrome harrowing, the Feeks have embraced and loved their daughter, Indiana. They embrace her, and celebrate the beautiful radiant beacon of joy that she is. On bad days, Indy can still be found in her mother’s arms or playing with toys with Rory, taking everything just as it comes.
Lesson: Life will throw difficulties your way. The best thing you can do is handle every obstacle independently.
The Feeks refused to let the grim news of Joey’s prognosis overshadow their joy; they accepted it for what it was and moved forward. Even with the terminal prognosis and cease of treatment, Joey and Rory continued their lives as normal as possible until Joey’s pain became overbearing.
Having called in the need for hospice care in November 2015, Joey still remains. She set a goal to live to see Christmas (which has passed). With their 2016 Grammy nomination, Joey set her mind on seeing the awards (she watched it from home). She also prayed she would live to see Indiana’s second birthday (it’s today). Joey has pushed through and saw all of the beautiful moments she wanted to.
Lesson: Keep up the fight.
8. Love Without Reservation
The Feeks had a bit of a whirlwind romance, marrying only two months after beginning a relationship. They knew they were meant for each other, unapologetically dedicating themselves to each other, their family, and, later, their music.
They have shown love to their children, speaking honestly to them about life after Joey. They have shown love to their family and friends by allowing them to be by their side. And they have shown love to their fans, expressing gratitude beyond measure while opening up their lives to the world.
Lesson: Tomorrow is never promised. Make sure the people you love know that you love them.
7. Embrace Family and Friends
The love and support shown to the Feek family since the announcement of ceasing treatment has been overwhelming. But the most touching of all the tributes have been the subtleties that have come from within the Feeks’ own intimate circles: The gathering of family, of friends, of the duo returning to Joey’s beloved state of Indiana for her last days. When Joey decided it was time to shave her head due to hair loss, several friends and family members joined her in doing so, proof that those whom love us the most will do the most.
Lesson: Hold on to the ones near and dear. They will be the ones who lift you up at your weakest moments.
6. Enjoy the Little Things
As chronicled on This Life I Live, Rory eloquently details his own emotions and Joey’s subtle success. Some of his most captivating posts are the moments he describes how Joey can embrace the little things: Having precious Indiana sitting on her lap, or being smothered in kisses by a puppy. Moving from the hospice bed to a rocking chair on the porch on a beautiful day. Prepping the garden for Spring, even if she won’t see it. And, most touchingly, a slow dance in the living room.
Lesson: Every little moment is a success in its own way.
5. Don’t Regret
After receiving the news of their 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, Joey set a plan to live to see the awards. Her frail state making it impossible to attend herself, she secured a plane ticket for Rory. She wanted him to go, to walk in celebration of their success.
Rory refused, instead opting to stay home to celebrate Valentine’s Day and view the ceremonies with his love: “I can’t leave her. I won’t. I have done many foolish things and made lots of mistakes in my life, but this isn’t going to be one of them,” he wrote on his blog, later sharing a photo of them embracing. There is not an ounce of regret on Rory’s face, just the display of absolute bliss of sharing the last Valentines Day with his love.
Lesson: Never second-guess a decision. If it feels right, if it is right, go with it.
Faith has been their pillar during even the darkest of moments. The couple holds firm that God has a plan, and although not necessarily being the one the prefer, they trust in His plan. This devout faith has enabled them to them to enjoy more of the little time they have left together, and (insert lesson #10) that they just have to work within His plan the best that they can.
Lesson: Religious or not, have faith that things will happen in the manner that they should and let go.
To admit that there are no more options is harrowing enough, let alone admitting it to the entire world. And Rory, with Joey’s approval, has been graciously detailing his own vulnerabilities and fears while chronicling their journey. They have shown us Joey’s frail hands, her shaved head, her thin profile. In an industry full of vanity and assumptions, the Feeks have humbly allowed us to experience their journey, both the triumphs and downfalls, with them.
Lesson: Not everything is perfect. We are each facing a battle. Be kind and vulnerable.
2. Find Beauty in Everything
Joey and Rory’s humility have allowed for them to see the beauty in even the darkest of times. From a playful group of puppies to napping with Indiana, Rory has eloquently detailed the beauty that still radiates from Joey. It could be a song. It could be a sunset. It could be the smile of a friend or a gaze from her daughters. Joey and Rory have found beauty in all there is.
Lesson: Splendor exists in the smallest of places. Seek it.
1. Just Live
Beyond the screens of what Rory has gracefully displayed to the world, we can only faintly imagine the pain, uncertainty and fear that the couple and their family endure on a daily basis, particularly since calling in for end-of-life care. But through it all, they are living – living through their memories, living with laughter, and living for each precious moment God has given them.
Lesson: Embracing the gift of each borrowed day, make every moment count.
To follow Joey’s progress or to show support for their journey, please visit Rory’s blog, This Life I Live.