A Country Star Bids Farewell

From Down Syndrome World Spring 2016

FACING TERMINAL CANCER, Joey Feek, one half of the Grammy nominated country music duo Joey+Rory, knew her time was limited. Her husband would be left to raise “Indy,” their daughter with Down syndrome, without her. So she made a radical, selfless decision.

“She started going against everything in her being that told her to hold her baby even tighter, and instead, she handed the baby to me,” Rory wrote on his blog, This Life I Live, where he details their journey with honesty, sincerity, and grace. Rory said Joey felt it was best for him and Indy to strengthen their bond for the future. “She carried the pain on her own shoulders, to try to keep it off of mine — and even more so, off of Indy’s.”

Joey passed away on March 4, shortly after reaching one final goal — to see Indiana turn 2 — on a day that Rory called “nothing but joy and more joy.”

“[Indiana] has a way of bringing even the most painful parts of life back into perspective.”

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Now their own version of a dynamic duo , Indy and Rory continue to work through common issues for a child with Down syndrome. She attends High Hopes Development Center, an inclusive preschool and pediatric therapy clinic in Franklin, Tennessee, which Joey and Rory selected together. Rory wrote that Indy loves being around all the other kids, gets physical therapy to learn to walk, and receives speech therapy to “start turning all the words she can say with her hands into sentences she can say with her mouth.”

“Joey was so excited about Indy getting the chance to come to High Hopes, and I was so thankful that she felt great about it.
Somehow she managed to transform her disappointment of not getting to raise and teach Indy into a real hope of something even better,” Rory reflected.

Indiana also delights in the world her mother loved so much, a country life on their farm.

“Like her mama, she likes being outside. She loves pointing out the horses to me, or making sounds like she’s telling me all about the flowers or the windmill that turns up on the hill,” he revealed.

Indy and Rory get through life’s challenges with help from an extended network of family and friends, including his two grown daughters from a previous marriage — Heidi and Hopie — as well as his manager, cousin, and friend, Aaron Carnahan, who had his own experience raising a son with Down syndrome.
Despite the extraordinary circumstances, Rory knows the time he and Indy shared with Joey will continue to give them hope.

“Tucked away in her little heart will be all of the beautiful memories of these first two years that she has shared with her mama, and when the
time is right, she will find them and they will make her smile,” Rory wrote.

“Yes, she will remember. I believe that.”

To learn more about Rory, Joey, and Indiana Feek, visit thislifeilive.com or facebook.com/joeyandrory.

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