It’s a love story that captured the nation’s heart — and then broke it into a million pieces.
Joey Feek once said that their relationship was a case of love at first sight — that she knew Rory Feek was the one the moment she laid eyes on him in 2002.
“Rory was singing ‘In the Round’ at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville with three other songwriters,” Joey said in an interview with People. “I was just one of dozens of people in the audience that night. From the first song Rory sang, I fell head over heels for him.” The young woman watching Rory sing just knew he was the one for her.
“I didn’t even know him, but something inside me said, ‘You’re going to marry that man and spend the rest of your lives together.’”
It’s just that neither Joey or Rory could ever imagine that the rest of their lives together would be so short.
But now, Rory Feek has announced that he will be releasing a special gift to his wife, in her memory, through a film he has created, titled To Joey, With Love. The movie was made from hundreds of hours of personal footage that Rory himself captured. It follows the 2014 birth of daughter Indiana, who was born with Down Syndrome, Joey’s cancer diagnosis, the subsequent, aggressive cancer treatment, and the time leading up to Joey’s death at the young age of 40.
Rory says the finished work is “a film about our lives during that two-and-a-half years. Our love. Our struggles. And even more so, about our faith in God and our hope in a plan bigger than the one we can see with our own eyes.”
And the film, he states, is a gift to his wife, Joey, for their anniversary.
Like many husbands, Rory writes, he’s never been a good gift-giver but luckily, Joey never wanted things. Instead, Joey wanted to be shown love through action. Service, Rory wrote, was his wife’s love language.
“[…] If you wanted to tell her that you loved her… she didn’t want to hear you say those three magic words – she needed to see it in action. So I learned to show her that I loved her by fixing door hinges, or keeping the yard mowed, or making it so she could stay home and still have a music career. It is how she knew – how she really knew – that I loved her.”
And so, through this film, Rory is once again showing his wife, Joey, that he loves her still.
“Yesterday, June 15th, was our anniversary. In the early morning, I carried a thermos and our two favorite mugs across the back field and shared a cup of coffee with my bride as the sun came up over the wooden cross with her name on it. I talked and she listened. Or at least, I hoped that somewhere, somehow, she could hear me. And I felt her presence the way I do most days since she’s been gone… in my heart, and in my soul. And I pulled out my iPhone and pushed play, and we watched a movie trailer together as my tears fell.”
Watch the preview below.
Two months after seeing Rory on stage in Nashville back in 2002, the couple married. And, as husband and wife, the duo stunned CMT during their appearance on the reality singing competition Can You Duet in 2008. And the country music couple eventually decided to expand their family, which already included Rory’s daughters from a prior relation, Heidi and Hopie, and had their only child together, Indiana, in February of 2014.
It was just a few months after the birth of Indiana that Rory and Joey found their world completely rocked by the devastating cancer diagnosis. Joey began a grueling treatment plan that included a hysterectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy, but in the end, it wasn’t enough, and Joey died at the young age of 40.
“just say yes” – a blog post & video from one man’s extraordinary, ordinary life. http://t.co/62tRaMeLFg
— Joey and Rory (@joeyandrory) April 7, 2014
Through it all, Rory remained a devoted husband, completely adoring of his wife, even while being completely devastated at the thought of losing her. He chronicled their days together in the poignant, faith-based blog he called This Life I Live: Scenes From One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life.
He wrote of her death in a post he called “A Dream Come True.”
“My wife’s greatest dream came true today. She is in Heaven.
“The cancer is gone, the pain has ceased and all her tears are dry. Joey is in the arms of her beloved brother Justin and using her pretty voice to sing for her savior.
“At 2:30 this afternoon, as we were gathered around her, holding hands and praying.. my precious bride breathed her last. And a moment later took her first breath on the other side.”
The movie, To Joey, With Love, will be in theaters nationwide on September 20.
[Photo by Frederick Breedon IV/Getty Images]