NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) – Surrounded by close friends and striving to spend every day as if it were her last, Joey Feek shared her latest hopes and prayers to be able to survive long enough to spend Christmas with her husband Rory and her daughter Indiana, who will turn two years old in February.
"Joey's hope never fades," wrote Rory on his blog, This Life I Live. "No amount of pain or medicine can touch it."
Russell Brisby, the singer-songwriter-duo's bus driver, joyfully picked up Joey's guests, including an 80-year-old friend, Miss Joan, who taught Joey to quilt. Joey's visitors were transported by bus to the rustic farmhouse where Joey, who entered hospice care this month, wants to spend the rest of her life.
Throughout the day, they visited Joey at her bedside, encouraging her and praying with her. "We all laughed and we cried, and one-by-one I led our friends through a door into the back bedroom to see her and sit with her and talk," Rory wrote. "Some came out smiling and full of joy and some came out hurting and having a hard-time catching their breath."
THINKING ABOUT THE END
Joey, who celebrated her fortieth birthday this year, has been battling cervical cancer, which she and Rory decided to stop treating in October. Her spirits are resilient, Rory writes, although the end is on her mind.
About the goodbye visit, Rory wrote, Miss Joan was especially moved. Joey had had Russell, earlier that morning, find the quilt that Miss Joan had made her at the farm – the one with the log cabin pattern with lots of red on it – and bring it up in the bus with him. She said that's what she wants to be wrapped in when it's her time to go."
Among the friends who said goodbye was Thomas Travioli, who helps the Feeks maintain their farmhouse. Joey asked him to build her coffin, "a rough-cut wooden box with a cross on it," which was also transported by the bus that day.
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"Our tears fell with hers," Rory said.
Joey and Rory received Joey's cancer diagnosis the same year their daughter Indiana was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
At the end of the day, Joey wanted to share her Christmas wish with her closest friends. "Her friends gathered around her on the couch and she told them of her hope that she might be able to still be here for Christmas, or for Indiana's 2nd birthday in February."
THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF FRIENDS
Joey continues to be sustained by her faith and hopes for a miracle even while she trusts in God's will. "It runs too deep," Rory said of her hope. "It's connected to her faith in God. And as she will tell you, God can do anything."
The comfort of uniting in prayer was a balm to Rory. "Then we all held hands and said a prayer," he said, "and put our hands together with Joey's. In that moment, I knew, that if there was a way – if Russell's bus could have been big enough – there would be thousands upon thousands of people on the bus trip up to see her... their hands around hers for the picture. All lifting her up, loving her."
Joey had a poignant, moving day with friends like Russell, Thomas, and Miss Joan, people whose lives she had inspired and whose faith strengthened hers.
The Feeks request continued prayer for healing for Joey.