Most people have heard the quote, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” from 19th-century British poet Alfred Lord Tennyson. That line is from the poem “In Memoriam,” and it honors one of the poet’s classmates who passed away.
But it seems fitting to recall that quote after seeing Rory Feek’s Valentine to his beloved wife and singing partner, Joey Martin Feek, who passed away from cancer almost two years ago.
In a post on Instagram, Rory shared a series of four photos of himself with Joey through the years. In the first, you can tell that Joey is young, fresh-faced and the picture of health. In the final two images, it’s easy to spot the telltale signs of the disease that ravaged her petite frame. But you can also tell the incredible relationship that this couple shared and the love he still feels.
Each photo also has a one-line sentiment attached, but strung together they read, “The days have somehow turned to years and healed our pain and dried our tears, but even now sweet Valentine, I am yours and you are mine.”
In the caption that accompanies the album, Rory explains in hashtags that Valentine’s Day was special for the couple because it was the occasion that marked both their first and last dates: “#valentineswasourfirstandlastdate #loveliveson”
Love does, indeed, live on. Following Joey’s untimely passing in 2016 after a courageous battle with cervical cancer, Rory has honored his late wife by keeping her sweet memory alive. While he tries to keep his social media timeline in the present by sharing photos of the couple’s soon-to-be 4-year-old daughter, Indiana, and projects happening around their farm, he does, occasionally share pictures of Joey that remind us of her radiant smile and beautiful life.
It’s obvious, though, that holidays built around couples and love hit Rory’s heart particularly hard.
But as Rory has proven to us time and time again, he has responsibilities to his family and a passion still burning for his wife’s mission—to spread love. Soon it will be time to plant Joey’s beloved garden, and there’s an old-fashioned little schoolhouse that is being built on the farm just for Indy and other precious children like her.
Rory also returned to the stage to perform in late 2017. And while he only held a few shows on the stage of the barn he and Joey built together, it was an affirmation that music was still magic for the singer-songwriter, and there are still stories to tell and songs to sing.
Speaking of stories, there’s also a new book coming out, “Once Upon a Farm,” a second memoir that picks up where the story of Joey and Rory left off in Rory’s earlier book, “This Life I Live,” and we can’t help but believe and hope that there will be more books as Indy grows up and Rory continues to heal.
There is definitely something profound about Tennyson’s quote because we can’t imagine a world where there wasn’t a Joey+Rory.