Country singer Joey Feek, whose final months battling cervical cancer were chronicled through a series of emotional posts on social media and her husband’s blog, died Friday. She was 40.
“My wife’s greatest dream came true today,” her spouse and musical partner, Rory Feek, wrote in a blog post. “She is in Heaven. The cancer is gone. The pain has ceased. And all her tears are dry.”
Rory said his wife died in the afternoon, surrounded by loved ones. “My precious bride breathed her last. And a moment later took her first breath on the other side.”
In her final months, Joey was much more than half of the eponymous musical duo, Joey + Rory. Her fight against cancer drew a devoted following that reached far beyond the country music fans who normally made up their audience.
They followed her journey through the electronic journals kept by Joey’s husband, who recorded his wife’s battle through pictures on the couple’s Facebook and Instagram pages and through heartbreaking updates posted to his blog, “This Life I Live.”
“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 wrote Friday. “There have been too many beautiful moments to count or even begin to share in this blog. But I try.”
Rory recently noted the mixed feelings he had about his posts being picked up by the media “as some tragic news story about my wife.” He said his intent was simply to share “small vignettes from our lives,” but stressed he felt thankful that Joey’s life, and ultimately her death, “might possibly help or encourage someone else somewhere.”
In his blog post the day his wife died, Rory included a video of one of their final special moments together. In it Joey’s idol, Dolly Parton, shares a special message.
“I just think that you’re wonderful, and I know God’s proud of you,” Parton said as an emotional and frail Joey watched, surrounded by loved ones.
Earlier in the year, Rory expressed gratitude for “all the extra days and weeks that we’ve been given together,” given that doctors “didn’t expect Joey to make it to Thanksgiving.”
Joey was first diagnosed with cancer in May 2014, about three months after giving birth to the couple’s daughter, Indiana.
She underwent an aggressive treatment plan that included a hysterectomy and other surgeries, as well as chemotherapy and radiation, which she resumed again in 2015 after the cancer returned.
Last October, Joey decided to stop treatment. The family then relocated from their Tennessee farm house so that Joey could enter hospice care in her hometown of Alexandria, Indiana.
In an interview in November 2015, Joey said she was not afraid of dying.
“I pray that one morning I just don’t wake up,” she told the Tennessean. “But I don’t fear anything because I’m so close to God and we’ve talked about it so many times. I know he’s close. And I know he loves me. I’m really at peace. I still believe there’s healing in prayer.”
MORE: Rory Feek reflects on ‘week to remember,’ Valentine’s Day with Joey
More recently, Joey continued to focus on her family, taking steps to make sure they would be taken care of after she passed away. In a blog post, Rory described how Joey continued her annual tradition of planting seeds, determined to start a garden her loved ones could continue after her death.
MORE: ‘Life goes on’: Joey Feek sows seeds for family’s spring garden
As Joey’s condition deteriorated rapidly, Rory began posting more photos of Joey cherishing time with their daughter, Indiana, who turned 2 on Feb. 17.
“Feeling broken-hearted and blessed all at the same time this morning… watching my beautiful bride pour a lifetime of love into a few minutes a day,” Rory wrote in the caption of one such picture.
Joey married Rory on June 15, 2002, and helped raise his two then-teenage daughters from a previous marriage, Heidi and Hopie. Although the girls never called Joey “Mom,” Rory noted that “if you look in their contacts on each of the girls’ phones, ‘Mom’ is how Joey’s number is listed.”
The couple formed a country duo in 2008, coming up with “Joey + Rory” after being asked for a stage name by the country music reality show, “Can You Duet,” Rory explained in a blog post. At the time, he told his wife he felt “Joey + Rory” made the most sense.
“Because that’s what it actually was. You + Me = whatever this is going to be,” he said.
The couple went on to release seven studio albums. On Dec. 7, the pair received a Grammy nomination, their first, for best country duo/group performance.
On Feb. 12, the couple released their final album, “Hymns That Are Important To Us,” which they recorded last summer in Nashville.
As Joey’s body began to shut down, Rory wrote in one of his final posts before her death that his wife accomplished “all she set out to do,” including seeing their daughter’s second birthday, and felt at ease with how she lived her life.
“There are no do-overs, no second-chances, no next-time-around’s to get it right. Joey knew this and she has made each and every day count,” he wrote. “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.'”