These last few months, leading up to these last few days, to her last few breaths, have become an all too familiar echo of the same months, days, and minutes of my dear Katie. My mood has absorbed this. Some days, its all I think about–the day that Joey will meet Katie.
I met Joey Feek four years ago, after watching her perform simple songs on-stage in Heber City at a buckaroo festival alongside her “overall” wearing husband. There was something about her, this girl named Joey. She was confident, without arrogance. She was funny, but not sarcastic. She was strong, and equally, graceful. A true lady. So much like my best friend from childhood, Katie. I wanted to meet her, shake her hand! Tell her, in a few words, that my first impression of her made a mark in my heart, one that would last a lifetime. We tracked Joey down, after going to a second concert, and waiting in line, and finally I got to speak to her for just a minute. She felt like an old friend.
A month after I met Joey, my Katie was diagnosed with breast cancer. Many of the songs on Joey + Rory’s album became anthems as I tried to understand the trial and the power of faith. I prayed for healing against the disease that loved Katie as much as we all did, and months later I cried with her as she braced herself for death.
And living again.
I continued to followed Joey + Rory, their music, her pregancy, the gift of new life, the joys of true love, I became addicted to all they represented — reading every blog post Rory wrote. When Baby Indiana was born I felt like she was the sweetest special girl in all the world. Her almond shaped eyes felt the complete love of her mamma; we could all see it. So, when Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer, in May of 2014, the music I heard running through my mind was a long track of hope mixed with sadness. She fought with faith and complete love. When she said, enough, we all sighed. I knew what was ahead, and have carried it, alongside her, along with all of her fans. Still. Her example has shined on. For the last many weeks she has raised her daughter from the hospital style bed she was confined to, teaching her sign language, and singing her the song, “In the Garden.” Her gestures became a beautiful tribute to the ability to rise up to the calling of motherhood, even when all else is shutting down.
When Joey meets Katie, their smiles of 40 years young will sing the same melody. Optimism from deep within a trial that brought them together. Katie will take her hand and tell her not to fear, that she will be her new dear friend and guide– and somehow, Joey will recognize her, this sister of another realm. Two women who’s faith in God increased because they closed their eyes and prayed for the light to stay close when their bodies hurt from trying, and minds burned from wanting.
Katie will teach Joey how to spread her guardian angel wings to watch over her daughter Indiana, just like she has protected her own daughter, Annie. She will teach her that you can fly faster in a storm, because the wind pushes you higher. That Spring’s sunshine let’s you stay longer, that rain is their queue to whisper encouragement to open ears, and flying through soft falling snow will be a window to the next life for those with bright eyes.
But most of all, Katie will teach Joey that she is only as far away as those left on earth believe she is.
And that is close enough. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.