Joey and Rory Feek's daughter Indiana Feek was only a few months old when Joey was first diagnosed with cervical cancer. Although Joey aggressively fought her illness, she soon realized that her daughter, who has Down Syndrome, would grow up without her, leading Joey to make the most heartbreaking decision of her life.
"When my wife passed away, one of the things that really surprised me was that she didn't leave me a to-do list," Rory admitted on the Rachael Ray Show. "In the last few months, she told me, 'I'm going to push the baby away' — who was two — [to] make me greater in the baby's life and her less, because she knew it was going to be a transition. I wouldn't have done that. I think I would have said, 'You get forever with her; I want all of it right now.' But she had an understanding of the bigger picture."
Joey passed away on March 4, 2016, two years after her cancer diagnosis. Even as she knew her life was ending, Joey refused to tell Rory how to raise their daughter.
"I think I would have laid awake at night with a list of things. 'Don't forget to tell her to do this. Don't forget to make sure she brushes her teeth all the time,'" Rory said. "And all she said to me is, 'You're going to do great.'"
Even through Joey's two years of illness, fighting for her life against insurmountable odds, she never became angry or bitter — inspiring Rory to take the same approach.
"My wife had a way of looking at it, seeing the good in it, for some reason," Rory recalled.
"She said, 'Everything's going to be okay,' even if it's not okay. When she had that much bravery and belief – her part was so much harder than mine – I think that's one of the reasons that I'm able to see it in a positive way," he added.
Rory chronicled their journey in his book, This Life I Live. He also just released a children's book, The Cow Said Neigh, and hints he might do more in the future.
"I love kids books," Rory said. "I read them to Indy all the time, and so this idea came to be. We got a chance to follow it all the way through and it's been so fun. I've really loved it. I think it's something I want to do a lot more of."
Both books are available for purchase at RoryFeek.com.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Paul Archuleta