"My wife's greatest dream came true today," Rory Feek, 50, wrote in an emotional post to his blog This Life I Live about the death of his beloved wife and singing partner, Joey. "She is in Heaven. The cancer is gone. The pain has ceased. And all her tears are dry."
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He said that she passed around 2:30 p.m. while she was "surrounded by loved ones."
"Though this is, and has been, a time of many tears of sorrow, it has also been a time of countless tears of joy," Rory said of Joey's last few months where she was surrounded by loved ones, including her daughter, Indiana, who is 2. "There have been too many beautiful moments to count or even begin to share ... But I try."
He continued: "When a person has been through as much pain and struggle as Joey’s been through, you just want it to be over. You want them to not have to hurt anymore, more that you want them to stay with you. And so, it makes the hard job of saying goodbye just a little easier."
Rory said that he will return to the couple's farm house in Tennessee, where he will bury Joey. "It's hard for me to imagine being there without Joey, but at the same time ... it is where she wants us to be. It's where she will be ... Joey will still be with us. Everywhere."
Joey was singing from the time she was 6, and her love of country music moved her to Nashville in 1998. She was signed to Sony Records in 2000 and met Rory Feek in April 2002, two months later they were married.
"Not to make you sick or nothing, but Rory and I are best friends," she said in an interview. "We got into this relationship and got married right away. It was just one of those things where we knew that we were supposed to be together and every minute of our lives have been a blessing."
The couple eventually settled in Tennessee, with Rory working as a songwriter for some of country's greatest singers and Joey running a restaurant. In 2008, the competed on CMT's singing competition Can You Duet, where they named themselves Joey + Rory. The placed third, but scored a record deal with Sugar Hill Records. The had a stream of hits including "Cheater Cheater."
Joey and Rory had baby Indiana in February 2014. When they found out Indiana had Down Syndrome, Rory said, "Joey and I wouldn't have changed a thing." Joey's diagnosis came just a few months after Indiana's birth. She underwent a radical hysterectomy and multiple surgeries, but unfortunately they didn't work.
"Sometimes there just aren't enough surgeries – or doctors – or chemotherapies – or prayers," Rory wrote in October on his blog This Life I Live, which has become a testament to his love for Joey. "And you have to wipe the tears from your cheeks and say the words that you were hoping to never have to say ... enough."
Joey and Rory accepted the prognosis – "God decided for me that my job of singing for people down here is my legacy, and he needs me singing up there [in heaven]," she said in November. However, they still tried to remain positive. "There isn't a day that goes by that [Joey] doesn't look me and her family in the eye and say, 'I'm gonna beat this,' or, 'I'm getting better, I believe that,'" Rory wrote of her will to live in November.
Joey entered hospice care in November, and returned to her hometown to be with her family. She set mini milestones to meet - Christmas, Valentine's Day, the Grammy Awards, and Indiana's birthday.
"Here I sit beside my dying wife," Rory wrote in an emotional entry on Jan. 9. "I don't say those words lightly. As a matter-of-fact, I haven't said them at all. But my beautiful bride has said them to me in these couple of days." He later added, "Yesterday with tears in her eyes and mine, Joey held my hand and told me that she has been having serious talks with Jesus. She said she told him that if He's ready to take her ... she's ready to come home."
Joey accepted her fate in February and started saying her goodbyes. "She was ready to stop fighting and she told me so," Rory wrote. "She said the flowers would soon be blooming back in Tennessee. It's time to go home." Later, Joey "gathered her family together around her and said goodbye to each of them. There were lots of tears as she explained to each one how much she loved them and that she was going to be going home soon." Rory placed Indy on Joey's lap while the group "cried with my wife as she told [Indy] how much her mam loved her ... and then she pulled Indiana up and she kissed her. One last kiss."
Soon after, Rory wrote that Joey had already entered a deep sleep and nurses warned that she would "most likely only be with us for a few more days ... at most."
In the midst of their battle, Joey and Rory released their final album Hymns That Are Important to Us, which landed at No. 1 on Billboard's country and contemporary Christian charts and No. 4 on the top 200 chart. It was their biggest debut ever. Soon after, they received a Grammy Award nomination for their song "If I Needed You."
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Rory found his peace in writing about Joey's last few months with her family. "Without realizing I was doing it, God has allowed me to capture hours and hours of Joey and her life at home on the farm, raising Indiana and playing music," he explained. "I can't help but believe that those clips will be an important part of keeping Joey's memory alive in Indy's heart."