Though it’s been two years since Rory Feek’s wife Joey lost her battle with cervical cancer, the country music star says he is still as devoted to his singing and life partner.
"I feel just as married and just as in love and I feel like she's just as much of a part of our life as she was," Rory said on "CBS Sunday Morning," days before the Tuesday release of his book, "Once Upon a Farm: Lessons on Growing Love, Life, and Hope on a New Frontier."
In the autobiography, Rory examines what it means to move forward following the death of his wife.
Rory and Joey married in 2002. In addition to building a life together, the couple was a Grammy-winning country and bluegrass duo. She was just 40 when she succumbed to cancer in 2016.
Though he initially had no plans to return to the stage, Rory started performing again last fall. He said returning to the stage without his wife was “surreal and strange, a little wrong in some ways."
His book also looks at raising his children without his partner.
The couple had one child, a daughter named Indiana, but Joey treated Rory’s two older daughters, Hope and Heidi, like her own.
"She was the first woman I could actually look up to," Hope told her father after Joey’s death.
And it was after Joey’s death that Hope came out to her father.
"She went on to tell me that her friend Wendy was more than her friend, that Wendy and [she] had been dating for almost a year, and that she was in love," Rory said. "My first reaction, honestly, was, 'I don't know.' Because my conservative Christian faith that saved me — the first reaction is that challenges that immensely."
But Rory came to accept his daughter for who she is, realizing that his only job as a father is "to love her," he said.
"The only thing I try to keep in mind is: It's her life, it's her choice, it's her faith,'" he said. "And my job is to love her, even when it's hard or even when I don't agree."
Hope and her fiancée plan to marry on her father's farm, where Joey is also buried.
It’s one of the many ways the family keeps Joey close, especially Rory, who hopes she’s watching over them.
"I'd like to think that Joey is proud of how I'm doing — how we're all doing, especially Indiana," he said of their 4-year-old daughter, who has Down syndrome. “She took so much pride in the work of being a mama to Indy, and I find myself thinking of her every day, all day long in the time that Indy and I spend together and the things we do, wondering how she would handle this, or do that. I remember how present Joey was and am trying to be that way, too."