I finished reading Vivian Cash’s autobiography last week, and have just been pondering over it. There have been a few books that have really impacted on my life, like April Fools Day, The Mayne Inheritance, Mao’s Last Dancer, and now, I Walked the Line. These books have changed the way I view things, and not just in a fleeting way. There have been permanent changes, and there are so many things about this book that have really haunted me. Johnny and Vivian met just 3 weeks before Johnny was to go to Germany for 3 years as an airforce officer in World War II, and two-thirds of the book are the letters that Vivian received from Johnny over those 3 years. They were so devoted to one another that they waited that long to be together. They just knew they were meant to be. For the last year he was away, they wrote to each other every day. EVERY DAY!!!??? The letters are just so full of love and adoration, you can’t help but wonder how everything fell apart.
(Warning: Spoiler alert.)
I only wish there were some of Vivian’s letters included as well, but they were all one way. The last part of the book is Vivian taking the reader through their courtship, Johnny’s return home (I got very teary), their marriage, their children, the drugs and booze that put so much strain on their marriage, and the other woman in Johnny’s life who may have contributed to their eventual demise.
I can’t quite put my finger on why this has affected me so much. It really broke my heart and I feel like I’m grieving for someone I don’t even know. I feel like I want to talk to Vivian, to know this dignified, beautiful woman who waited so long for the love of her life, only to have everything fall apart within a decade. I ache over her broken heart, her tears, her frustration, losing her beloved to another woman and feeling like all she could do was watch it all unfold.
Even writing this now, I’m filled with anger and sadness. As I said, I really don’t know why it has affected me this much. And the thing is, now I don’t really want to read Johnny Cash’s autobiography. It’s seemingly mainly centres around his life and marriage to June Carter. (I don’t know that I could ever read June’s biography…)
I don’t know if I want to read about a man who broke the heart of a young woman, so devoted and full of hope. I know this is an unfair judgement, but we all know I’m hopelessly flawed. Maybe in time I can read more about their story, but for now, I’m totally on Vivian’s side.