Gratitude for ages. Rory Feek thanked his local townspeople of Alexandria, Indiana, for their unending support throughout late wife Joey's cancer battle in a new blog post published two weeks after her March 4 death at age 40.
The country singer, 49, recalled his first visit to Joey's hometown in April 2002, which turned out to be an eventful trip. At the time, Joey and Rory had only been dating for two months when he decided to ask her father, Jack, for her hand in marriage. During that same memorable visit, Joey took her future husband to the crash site where her brother, Justin, died at age 17.
"So there we were, in the spot where ... she felt her greatest pain," Rory recalled on his blog, This Life I Live, on Friday, March 18. "But this time I was the one who knelt, and I asked Joey to marry me. And we both cried. And together we prayed that God might take our broken hearts and our broken pasts and make something truly beautiful of them. And He has. A million times over, He has."
The dad of three daughters revealed that he and his youngest, Indiana, returned to Alexandria this past Sunday, March 13, where a memorial was held in honor of his late wife at her local high school gym. "[This was] the same place where Joey had played basketball and volleyball and cheered for her home team," he wrote, adding that "a few thousand people gathered together in her honor." Though the occasion was sad, Rory wrote: "I know my wife would’ve found a way to see the beauty in this sad day."
"I would also like to thank the wonderful town of Alexandria, Indiana. Joey’s town. My town," he continued. "A place that might have seen its better days, but is striving to make its best days yet to come. A place where factories have closed their doors and jobs are scarce… where its values and faith are being challenged at every turn."
Rory called out examples of how Alexandria locals extended support while Joey's health waned. "I never paid for a piece of pizza while we were there the past five months. Or an oil change. Or hardly even a meal at a restaurant," he shared. "I’ve been hugged by cashiers at Home Depot and had people cry in my arms in the produce aisle of the grocery store. I’ve had waitresses pray with me in restaurants and neighbors drop off home cooked meals day-and-night to the house we were staying in. Someone even saw that in one of my posts there was a Nestle water bottle sitting by Joey’s nightstand and a day later an employee from that company dropped of two dozen cases of water in our garage…and they kept bringing more cases. Right to the very end."
On March 4, Joey Feek died from stage IV cervical cancer. She is survived by her husband, their 2-year-old daughter Indiana, and her two stepdaughters, Heidi and Hopie. Her journey, which was chronicled in detail by Rory over the past year, still lingers in the hearts of local Alexandria residents — and elsewhere.
"The love keeps coming," Rory wrote on Friday. "Literally as I am sitting here finishing this post at a breakfast restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee… I have had a dozen people stop by my table to hug me, tell me they’re praying for my family and or just say they love me and Joey and Indy. And none of them are people that I’ve ever met before."
He ended his note by thanking all of his supporters, who've extended their warmth digitally. "Sometimes I think the internet is a big scary place. A place where only dark things happen and the worst in people and life get lifted up," Rory concluded. "But I don’t think that way anymore. I think the internet is also a place where people can come together and share their hopes and their fears. A great big beautiful community of strangers… struggling, hurting, celebrating and needing each other. A great big, small town."
Want stories like these delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter!