In his latest blog post on This Life I Live, Rory Feek writes about the song he and wife Joey Feek recorded in 2012, two years before she was ever diagnosed with cervical cancer. (Joey stopped treatment for her cancer this past fall and is currently in hospice in her hometown in Indiana.) The song, written by a friend of theirs, is called, “When I’m Gone”. Rory said when he and Joey first heard it, they wept, and they knew they had to record it. But when it came time to record a video for the song, the director wanted Joey to sing it to Rory, as if she, Joey, was dying, and Rory would be left behind.
Rory tells the story, saying at first he was resistant to the idea.
I didn’t like it.
I told them so. It hit too close to home.
But as they continued to talk and I listened… I realized that “yes, of course. We have to make it that way. It’s the story in the song”.
It wasn’t what I wanted… but it’s what the song wanted. And though it scared me for us to be that vulnerable, it was also what our whole lives and music career was about – being real… being honest.
And so the cameras rolled and both Joey and I let us ourselves imagine what it would be like if she had to leave this world and I was left behind without her…
Some of the song’s lyrics are almost painful to listen to, and as the tears stream down Joey’s face as she sings, I can’t help but wonder if she somehow knew.
You’ll lie down in our big bed
Dread the dark and dread the dawn.
But you’ll be alright on that first night when I’m gone.
You will reach for me in vain, you’ll be whispering my name
As if sorrow were your friend and this world so alien
But life will call with daffodils and morning glorious blue skies.
You’ll think of me – some memory, and softly smile to your surprise.
And even though you love me still, you will know where you belong.
Just give it time
We’ll both be fine when I’m gone.
Rory says as he sits “beside my dying wife” three years later, he gets the irony of the situation, but that he’s not angry. He explains:
Our ‘make-believe’ song and video seems to be coming true.
Some call it ‘life imitating art’. I don’t.
I call it God.
He knew I would need her to tell me goodbye… not just once, but a thousand times. And I’d need to know that no matter how much time passes, that she loves me still. And He made it so that if I needed to be reminded of her beautiful life and heart and voice… she would only be a ‘click’ away.
Am I angry at the irony of the song? No. How could I be?
How many men who are losing the woman they love get a gift like that? None that I know of.
I’ve been an avid follower and reporter of the Feek’s story for several months now, and they continue to touch me over and over with their love for each other and their faith in God. But this post from Rory? Well, it about did me in. Where some would see a cruel joke, a cruel twist of fate, he sees a gift from God.
And in turn, he’s given a gift to all of us, as has Joey.
Here’s the gorgeous but heartbreaking song and video, “When I’m Gone”.
Thank you Joey and Rory. I’m still praying for you always.