Feek’s latest blog post on This Life I Live tells of how he and Carnahan, who is also his cousin, have not just shared many of the same ups and downs from the time they were children, but how closely Feek’s life really has paralleled Carnahan’s.
“Some things are meant to be,” writes Feek. “They’re bigger than us. Bigger than coincidence. And the only way you can explain them is… God.”
“My family followed his across the country many times in search of work and a better life,” writes Feek, 49, of the beginnings of his close bond with his cousin. “We often found ourselves living in the same towns, and when times were really hard, even the same house.”
Rory Feek and Aaron Carnahan as young men
But the ways in which their lives would reflect each other over the years is uncanny.
“While in the service, I got married, had two daughters and was divorced within a couple of years,” writes Feek. “He too got married, had two daughters and divorced. His third child, Greg, who is 25 now, has Down syndrome. Our little Indiana didn’t come along ’til many years later.”
Feek also reveals that it was his cousin’s journey to becoming a Christian that lead him to find his own faith.
“In the mid-90s while I was still new to Tennessee, chasing my dreams and struggling to find myself and God, Aaron was 500 miles away in Illinois going through the same thing,” says Feek. “Not long after he became a Christian, so did I. It was Aaron’s journey to faith that played a huge part in leading me to find mine.”
And after Carnahan had found love again, Feek prayed he’d be able to do the same.
“His second marriage to Jill Hodel was the vision of marriage that I had always hoped for and dreamed of,” Feek writes. “So beside my bed each night, I prayed that God might bring someone special into my life, like He had brought to Aaron,” writes Feek. “Not long after that, I was playing a show at the Bluebird Cafe and a beautiful brown-eyed girl with a boy’s name was in the audience listening. Joey and I got married in 2002.”
Aaron Carnahan’s wife Jill with Joey Feek
In fact, Joey also shared many similarities with Carnahan’s wife Jill.
“Aaron’s wife Jill grew up in the same farmhouse in Illinois her whole life. She has 4 siblings whose names all begin with letter J… Jeff, Jason, Jeremy and Jamie,” writes Feek. “My wife Joey grew up in the same farmhouse in Indiana her whole life and she has 4 siblings also. Their names are Jody, Julie, Justin and Jessie.”
“While still in medical school in Chicago, Jill was diagnosed with cancer, writes Feek. “After surgery, and many rounds of chemo and radiation, Jill made a full recovery and is now one the country’s leading functional medicine doctors.”
The likenesses became heartbreaking when Feek phoned his cousin in May of 2014 to tell him that doctors suspected Joey had a tumor on her cervix.
“I remember him crying on the phone and saying… ‘You can’t have this. This is where it has to stop…’ writes Feek. “That was the one place where the paralleling of our lives was almost too much for him to [bear].”
Aaron Carnahan with Feek’s daughter Indiana
Feek’s latest blog post was written in honor of Carnahan’s 48th birthday as a way for Feek to express his love and gratitude for his cousin.
“I think he’s cried more tears over what is happening right now than all of us put together,” writes Feek.
“I woke up thinking about him today. And about the ties that have bound us together. What an incredible blessing Aaron has been to me all these years, and is to Joey and me now. There isn’t a moment that goes by that we aren’t thankful for him and all he’s done for us and with us.”