Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Joey + Rory - To Joey With Love

I don't know how you feel about Joey + Rory, or whether you are at all interested in their story, but I have been deeply moved by the faith, hope, and love that shone through them as they shared their "severe mercy" with the world. 

I don't watch television, other than occasional choice streaming of specific shows or movies, so I never saw them on the show that catapulted them into the public spotlight. I stumbled upon them online somehow near the time that Rory began his blog and Joey was first diagnosed with cervical cancer, and I was transfixed. 

I have a friend who has been battling cancer for almost three years.  It has taken a lot from her, and she still manages to keep her faith in the Heavenly Father, present a positive attitude, and wants to help others to any extent she is able.  I have had female friends in their 30's, 40's, and 50's die from cancer in recent years. all leaving young children and bewildered, heartbroken husbands. I watched a family lose their 35-year-old father to cancer just over a year ago, after he bravely battled for over 4 years. I lost my father to cancer when he was just 52 years old.  Instead of searching for a cure, I believe we need to be searching for the cause.  If we could eliminate the cause of this increasing disease, we could save untold lives.

Cancer defeated my grandfather when I was 12 years old.  It wasn't as prevalent in those days. There weren't cancer hospitals in every city, and I didn't know one child or young person who had the disease.  I was, however, terrified that I would get cancer.  It looked painful and scary, and it robbed people (us) of their beloved family member (grandpa).  Little did I know that cancer was about to bloom to become one of the leading causes of death, and that almost every person I knew as I navigated adulthood would be in some way touched by cancer.  These days, there are cancer stories in abundance, and you cannot pass a person on the street who hasn't either had cancer or known someone who has.  I have escaped it thus far, but nobody knows the future.

What sets the Joey + Rory story apart, for me, is that it is magnified, inspiring, and beautifully rendered.  Rory was, and is, a song writer.  He was writing songs and giving small performances long before he met Joey.  He has a way with words that allows him to pour out heartrending emotion in a beautiful way, on his blog and now on the screen.  I saw the movie last night, and it was exactly what I expected (documentary style use of "home video" with narration), but also more.  It is not for everybody, but for those who wish to see, it is very moving. 

Some people have posted nasty comments about his motives, but I think that people can find ugliness in any place they choose to find it.  People can also find beauty and truth, if they are willing to see.  I see a mourning husband who believed in the higher good that sharing Joey's life could bring.  Rory has his own faith, but he has stated that Joeys' faith was bigger.  Rory believed in Joey's knowledge that this mortal realm is not our final resting place, and that the bigger picture is where our spirit resides after out body ceases to function. 

Whether we like it or not, cancer is a common thread that binds we humans together, even if we don't know each other personally, and even if we are so different from each other in lifestyle, beliefs, or tastes that nothing much else would bind us. It has become such a common story that many of us turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the human interest stories that we can read every day in almost every form of media.

Joey had a life force within her that even now defies death.  She was beautiful in physical appearance, and also in her soul and spirit.  Joey had a graceful, quiet bearing, and a magnificent singing voice.  She was humble and steadfast in her faith in the Heavenly Father and his love.  I felt that I could almost see light emanating from her in photos, in the video of her live performances, and in the video of her day-to-day life.  No matter what life threw at her, even when she was despondent and in tears, she had a sturdy rod of faith holding her upright and glowing.  

She smiled through her pain.  She wanted to comfort others when they were grieving for her as she went through the diagnosis and treatment.  She knelt to pray, and she sang hymns through it all.

I lament that she is gone, and that her clear and sterling voice will never again grace a live stage on this Earth.  I grieve for her family in the loss of their beloved Joey.  I revel in the legacy that she left behind, and in the shining example of faith she set.  My personal belief is that the Heavenly Father does not cause the afflictions of this world, but He does have a purpose for each of us, and perhaps her purpose was to be that shining example, that others may find Him through her story.  My hope is that, as Rory has been led to share Joey with the world, there will be those who find Joey's life as beautiful, full, and inspiring as I have, and it will lead them to a life of faith and love for others, even if they are in the process of navigating their own devastating life circumstances.  

I thank Joey's parents for guiding such a beautiful spirit from birth to adulthood, and I thank Rory for sharing her with us.  I hope people will see that the Heavenly Father has used her in an extraordinary way, but He did not "take her from us" or "cause her pain".  I hope people will see the light and beauty that shone from her while she was here, and the light that still shines on the wake she left behind her.

As Joey would say, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through...the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door, and I can't feel at home in this world anymore..."


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