I’ve never been a super-huge fan of country music. There are a few country artists whose music I enjoy and a few country songs I have on my mp3 player. So when I started seeing article after article about Joey Feek and her battle with cancer, I was a bit confused to who she was and somewhat understood why I had never heard about her previously.
As the months progressed and more articles about her would pop up in my newsfeed, I would find myself clicking on the news articles about Joey. The posts would record each step of her dying process. From her final Christmas to the last days of her life, each article shaped a narrative to sacred to keep silent.
Through these accounts, Joey Feek showed us what true courage in the face of final days looks like. She showed us what it meant to live fully in the present and show those close to you how much you love and value them. Joey’s life was one where discomfort and pain didn’t stop her from continuing to live the best she could. She embraced faith as part of the process. And, most of all, she was able to be vulnerable by allowing the world to walk with her on the final steps of her journey.
Joey’s legacy will include her music. But what I believe was greater included her display of bravery and the way she taught us how to die. Dying is not pretty or glamorous or what’s supposed to happen when you’re 40 years old. Joey gave us a vivid picture of the ebb and flow of life and how raw and vulnerable it is to walk alongside of someone in the final stages of life.
We thank Joey, her husband Rory and their family for allowing the world to see the scary, authentic, beautiful and awe-ful world of hospice, palliative care, final breaths, last kisses and living fully in the moment.
Who are the people in your life who gave you a beautiful example of what it means to die with dignity, grace and vulnerability?
Years ago, I was teaching the Sunday school class for the oldest members of our congregation. (It seemed we lost a class member every six weeks or so.) One particularly hard loss was Mildred. She and George were still giddy in love after more than six decades and were living life out loud when cancer crept into her liver and sped through her body. A year and a half after Mildred had gone to Glory, George neared the end of his battle with cancer. In the 18 months previous, he had, of course, grieved the painful loss of his wife, but he had also spent a lot of time living: he visited his kids and his grandkids, he went deep sea fishing, he read lots of books. . . . He told me, his voice just a whisper, “I’m not ready to die.” I asked the theologically appropriate questions and he waved them off saying, “I just really love living.”
That’s the way I want to go–having lived a life worth hanging around for . . .
(I wrote about George’s love of life on my blog, actually: http://wp.me/p3ddtz-37)
Two former colleagues in ministry: one from a brain tumor, the other from Cystic Fibrosis. Neither would have chosen to leave their families, friends, and congregations behind. But what a powerful witness they were to dying. I’m sure they had their difficult moments – which is all part of the process as well. I can only pray that I will have the same faith, peacefulness and grace that they showed throughout.
Thank you for sharing this!