Joey Feek Left the World With a Message for Moms -- & I'm Listening

Joey Rory Feek

For months, like so many others, I've been following the story of Rory and Joey Feek. And when I heard that Joey had passed away, I knew I wanted to say thank you. Thank you, to both of them, for helping me be a better mom.


Not too long ago, Rory Feek shared a blog post titled One Last Kiss, in which he featured a heartbreaking, beautiful image of his wife. When I first saw the photo, it felt like it would be a kind of exploitation to re-post it here ... this image that captures an intensely lovely and private moment. But then I read the words that Rory wrote, about being thankful that their story has been shared so much and so often, and I realized that their intention in being so open is a gift to all of us.

It's almost unbearable to look at that photo. A mother giving what she knows will be her very last kiss to her little girl. It is unbearable.

How can you look at it?

And yet, how can you look away?

Wrote Rory:

I am thankful.  So very thankful – that our story has been shared and shared and shared. Thankful that because it's being picked up and shared by dozens of news organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals on Facebook and elsewhere, somehow my wife's life and ultimately her death, might possibly help or encourage someone else somewhere. That this life she's living might impact the life of someone that she and I will never meet, and never see, at least this side of heaven. That is a good thing. No, that is a great thing. Thank you.

It is a great thing. And Rory, I can tell you, it's also the greatest gift that you and Joey have given us -- the gift of a reminder.

As we go through our busy days as parents, days that are so filled with busy-ness, like lunches to make and deadlines to meet and dinners to plan and broken washing machines to fix and checks to write and a million million trillion endless things that can take every moment of our precious time, every drop of energy -- a reminder.

One of the last things Joey said before she drifted into the deep sleep she's been in for a few days now is, 'I have no regrets… I can honestly say, that I have done everything I wanted to do and lived the life I always wanted to live.'

No regrets.

That's what I want to be able to say as I leave this earth, whether that's in 100 years, or tomorrow morning.

More from The Stir: Rory Feek Shares the Pain of Moving on Without Wife Joey

That despite it all -- all of my mistakes and misses and heartbreaks and moments wasted -- when it came to my daughter, to being a mom, to fully embracing and enjoying it as much as humanly possible, I have no regrets. That I loved my baby as much as I could, for as long as I could, and that to the best of my imperfectly human ability, I did not allow the minutia to take my heart away for too often, or for too long.

When I lost my younger sister, in a shocking and brutal way three years ago, for months and months after, I found myself with a strange ability to be completely "in" the simplest moment. In bed at night, arms around my 10-year-old daughter, I would lie there and just inhale her sweet head -- that sweet baby smell that I can still detect, even though she's such a "big girl" now. I would feel so much intense gratitude, my broken, full heart could hardly bear it.

Driving home from the grocery store, I would be able to wholly focus on her chatter from the backseat; on truly, deeply appreciating the very instant we were in, the early evening summer sunlight gently streaming through the trees and making her hair glow, golden.

"I am here," I was able to think in that insignificant instant, paper towels and bread waiting to be carried into the house. "I'm so grateful."

Time passes, and life, strangely, goes on, and it's harder for me to keep hold of that temporary insight. But Joey and Rory's story, and the story of their love for each other and their children, brings me right back there -- not to the grief, but to the awareness of the indescribable preciousness of life.

I'm so thankful to be a mother. And I'm so thankful to the Feeks for sharing their journey, for helping me to remember to keep sight of the most important thing -- the only thing -- love.


Image via roryandjoey/Instagram

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