It seems like I’ve spent the last 10+ years in a perpetual state of grief and caregiving, coming up for air just briefly enough to survive and then going back under again.
When I was offered an opportunity to review an advanced screening of To Joey, With Love, I knew basically what I was getting into, as I had followed some of Joey, Rory and Indy Feek’s journey on Facebook.
But I didn’t realize the magnitude of love and legacy (and healing) that I would experience through this beautifully pieced together documentary.
How To Joey, with Love is helping me make peace with my grief
Narrated by Rory Feek, the film chronicles he and his wife Joey’s heartbreaking journey, from the singer-songwriter couple taking a break from country music stardom in January 2014 to her passing in March 2016.
“Something told me that we needed to remember these moments, big and small, that one day they would be important.” – Rory Feek
The two years documented by Rory’s videos are quite a whirlwind for the famous but down-to-earth couple. Joey gives birth to their healthy daughter Indiana at their home near Nashville, but the new mother is rushed to the hospital with complications and requires emergency surgery. At the hospital, Joey and Rory learn that “Indy” has Downs Syndrome. At her 12-week check up, Joey’s doctor notices something on her cervix that turns out to be cancer, and Joey undergoes surgery and is told she’s cancer free.
Right after life appears to be getting back to normal, and Rory makes a movie called Josephine, Joey begins feeling sick, finds out that her cancer is back and undergoes another surgery. While she’s in Georgia undergoing chemo treatments, in her hotel room in the evenings, Joey fulfills her longtime dream of recording an album of the hymns she grew up singing.
“She [Joey] wanted what He wanted.” – Rory Feek
When a PET scan shows the cancer has continued to grow despite chemo, Joey decides to end treatment and spend her remaining time surrounded by family in her birthplace of Indiana. Letting Rory take a greater and greater role in Indy’s life to lessen the eventual blow of her absence, Joey lives to see both her hymn album release and Indy’s 2nd birthday, before she is “ready to go home.”
Joey’s unrelenting hope and courage through her battle with terminal cancer reminds me of my stepmom Karen, who died after battling colon cancer, and her selfless commitment to motherhood reminds me of my own mom, whom I lost to early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Like them, Joey’s strongest legacy is her beautiful faith in her Creator, through unimaginable pain, fear and loss of control.
Our greatest fear when grieving the loss of someone we love is that they will be forgotten, but through her music, her daughter, her family’s story and this film, Joey’s memory lives on. In much the same way, through my mom’s artwork, children and grandchildren, our story, our children’s book and this blog, my mother’s memory lives on.
This is a film I will show–and discuss with–my girls as they get older, as it is a perfect illustration of faith, legacy and eternal love.
“We believed that God would give us a great story, and He did.” – Rory Feek
You can find more information and preorder the DVD at ToJoeywithLove.com.