Joey has been fighting Stage 4 cancer since June, a year after undergoing surgery in her initial cancer fight. She has had extensive surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, but her doctors told the couple that there is nothing more medicine can do, and they recently ended her treatments. She has been in home hospice recently, after returning to her hometown of Alexandria, Ind. to spend as much time with her family as possible, and the couple were not at all sure they would celebrate this Christmas together.
Still, they decided to keep positive, in a scenario Rory compares to The Gruffalo, their daughter Indiana’s favorite book and video. In the story, a mouse wandering through the forest makes up a creature called a Gruffalo in order to keep going when he encounters obstacles. He knows it isn’t real, but he convinces everyone he meets, and in the end, the Gruffalo actually turns out to be real.
“In early November, Christmas seemed still so far away. And the prognosis was clear that there was a good chance Joey wasn’t going to be with us then and that this Christmas was going to be a difficult one to get through,” Rory writes.
“So like the mouse in Indy’s story, we all began to ‘make up’ our own Gruffalo. Ours was the belief that it was going to be a wonderful, magical Christmas. We didn’t really believe it — down deep inside we knew we knew better — but still we told ourselves and each other that it was going to be great.
“And we trudged on through the deep dark wood,” he adds.
“And when we got to the other side, it turned out that our Gruffalo was real too. Christmas had come and Joey was not only here with us, but she was doing well and we all had an amazing day together.”
In fact, the family had an early visit from Santa, and they also received a very special video Christmas card from the cast and crew of Can You Duet, the television show that launched Joey + Rory’s musical career together, before Christmas Day even dawned. Rory writes that on Christmas, they shared a beautiful tree, Christmas cookies, new pajamas, lots of presents and a big dinner with Joey’s family to top it off. Indiana even got her very own Gruffalo.
“Sometimes believing is seeing,” he says.
“And so as the New Year approaches, we will continue to believe and trust that what is waiting on the other side of the deep, dark wood is something even better and more beautiful than our minds can even imagine.”
The couple have been rock-steady in their faith throughout Joey’s cancer battle. She has set a goal to live until February so that she can see both the Grammy Awards — in which Joey + Rory are nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance — and Indiana’s second birthday.