Rory Feek had two daughters, Heidi and Hopie, from his first marriage, which ended ten years before he married his wife, Joey Feek, in 2002.
Feek was only a few days away from burying Joey, who passed away in 2016 from cancer,when Hopie came to him, and Feek instantly sensed she had something important to say.
"I said, 'Just tell me, Hopie,'" Feek recalls in an upcoming episode CBS Sunday Morning. "And she went on to tell me that her friend Wendy was more than her friend, that Wendy and her had been dating for almost a year. And that she was in love."
Hopie was afraid her father would think less of her because of her relationship – a fact Feek admits was almost at least partially true.
"Even more than that," Feek continues, "she's asking me, 'Are you still going to love me?' And my first reaction, honestly, was 'I don't think so.'"
Ultimately, Feek realized that the faith that he clung to all his life, especially when his wife became ill, required him to love his daughter, even if he disagreed with her choices.
"Because my conservative Christian faith that saved me – the first reaction is that challenges that immensely," Feek says. "Am I supposed to shun my child now and say, 'No, you can't be in my life until you come around to thinking like I'm thinking'?"
Hopie admits she saw "panic" in her dad's face, but also understood the fear. Thankfully, the singer-songwriter's love for his daughter is unconditional, and while he may not still agree with her choices, his love for her remains steadfast.
"The only thing I try to keep in mind is it's her life, it's her choice," Feek says. "It's her faith and my job is to love her even when it's hard."
Feek rose to fame as one-half of the singing duo Joey + Rory, appearing on the CMT competition Can You Duet in 2008, where they came in third place. In 2014, only a few months after Joey gave birth to their daughter, Indiana, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, passing away on March 4, 2016 at her family's home, where she had been receiving hospice care. Her husband is still coming to terms with the loss, more than two years later.
"I feel just as married and just as in love," Feek acknowledges. "And I feel like she's just as much a part of our life as she was."
The 53-year-old has begun performing by himself, although he knows the stage will always be empty without Joey.
"It felt surreal and strange, a little wrong in some ways," says Feek, adding he once said he wouldn't perform without her. "But, on the other side, it felt strangely similar."
The CBS Sunday Morning episode with Joey Feek airs on Sunday, June 17 at 9 a.m. ET on CBS.
Photo courtesy of CBS