His wife may be gone, but Rory Feek can still feel the love of the people she touched.
Via his blog, the grieving widow thanked the local townspeople of Alexandria, Ind., for their unwavering support during his wife's brave battle with cancer.
In the post, Rory recalled his first visit to Joey's hometown. It would change his life forever.
"It was my first trip with Joey to her hometown and to meet her family," he said. "It's also the weekend that we got engaged."
The couple had only been together for two months at the time, but Rory said, "when you know… you know. And so what is there to wait for." During that same memorable visit, Joey took her future husband to the crash site where her brother, Justin, died at age 17.
"So there we were, in the spot where ... she felt her greatest pain," Rory recalled on his blog, This Life I Live on March 18, where he chronicled Joey's fight. "But this time I was the one who knelt, and I asked Joey to marry me.
"And we both cried. And together we prayed that God might take our broken hearts and our broken pasts and make something truly beautiful of them. And He has. A million times over, He has."
Rory's daughters Heidi and Hope were also there.
He returned to Joey's hometown on March 13, where a memorial was held in Joey's honor, which was attended by "a few thousand people."
He wife would have loved it, he said.
"I would also like to thank the wonderful town of Alexandria, Indiana. Joey's town. My town," he continued. "A place that might have seen its better days, but is striving to make its best days yet to come. A place where factories have closed their doors and jobs are scarce… where its values and faith are being challenged at every turn."
Rory cited specific examples of how Alexandria locals extended support while Joey's health waned.
"I never paid for a piece of pizza while we were there the past five months. Or an oil change. Or hardly even a meal at a restaurant," he shared. "I've been hugged by cashiers at Home Depot and had people cry in my arms in the produce aisle of the grocery store.
"I've had waitresses pray with me in restaurants and neighbors drop off home cooked meals day-and-night to the house we were staying in. Someone even saw that in one of my posts there was a Nestle water bottle sitting by Joey's nightstand and a day later an employee from that company dropped of two dozen cases of water in our garage…and they kept bringing more cases. Right to the very end."
After Joey passed on March 4, Rory left the Indiana town and returned home to the Grammy-nominated duo's Tennessee home. But, as evidenced by his return to Indiana, Rory feels a strong connection to the town. Other towns also feels a connection to him.
"The love keeps coming," Rory wrote. "Literally as I am sitting here finishing this post at a breakfast restaurant in Franklin, Tennessee… I have had a dozen people stop by my table to hug me, tell me they're praying for my family and or just say they love me and Joey and Indy. And none of them are people that I've ever met before."
He ended his note by thanking all of his supporters, who've extended their warmth digitally. "Sometimes I think the Internet is a big scary place. A place where only dark things happen and the worst in people and life get lifted up," Rory concluded. "But I don't think that way anymore. I think the Internet is also a place where people can come together and share their hopes and their fears. A great big beautiful community of strangers… struggling, hurting, celebrating and needing each other. A great big, small town."
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