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Am I being selfish?


lilyjohn

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Today I started to do something. It was something that I tried once before and couldn't do. I even mentioned it here a time or two. Well it has left me in a little delima. I could use some advice.

As most of you know just 4 short months after Johnny passed I left Washington and the home we had shared behind me. It was so hard but without him I was totaly alone and needed to be close to at least some of my family. Leaving the places and things that we had shared was like leaving him, it tore another piece of my heart out.

Before leaving I decided that I would take some of it with me. I drove to many of the places we had gone together. I would put the movie camera on my dashboard and while driving I would talk to Johnny reliving all of the memores that went with each place. I titled my tapes "riding with memories"I needed to have that to bring with me. Those tapes are pure raw emotion. There is anger, pain and at time hysterics. Anyone who would see and hear those tapes would have no doubt how special our relationship was just by hearing the way I talked to him even after his death.

The last time I watched those tapes I didn't get very far. I found myself in the same condition I was in while making them so I put them away. That was two years ago. Today I took one out and managed to watch about half of one. Like Johnny would say I can only take a little at a time.

I thought that I would watch them once then destroy them. I didn't want to take the chance that some day when I am gone my children or his would see and hear them. Part of the reason is because I talked about some of the things I knew about his ex and I spoke in such a intimate way with Johnny. I wasn't sure that my family should see that side of our relationship. Especially sense I ended up going to Johnny just a couple of months after divorcing their dad.

I just can't do it. Those tapes are so special because of the emotion and the special memories and places on them. Johnny was so open and so honest and our relationship was like that. Wouldn't it be dishonest to destroy them even if I could?

Maybe someday it would be good for them to know more about me. Those tapes reveal a part of me that they never knew. For so long so much of myself was kept buried. I never let myself be me. I denied myself that freedom but with Johnny our relationship was so special that he set me free to be me. My family never knew that person. I've retained much of it but a lot there has been no reason for them to see.

So I ask am I being selfish holding on to those tapes when there is a good chance that someday after I am gone they may see and hear them and be hurt because I never had that relationship with their dad? If it were you what would you do? I want to do what is right but I also want to hold on to some of the things that are so much a part of mine and Johnny's love, I have lost so much already.

One thing too I had almost forgotten about. The tape I watched this morning took me a ways out in the country. While on that ride I suddenly smelled capachino. Johnny and I sharedd so many capachinos in our car and there was the smell miles from nowhere. Watching the tape I also saw something quite special. There were a couple of rain drops on my windshield. As I drove they all disappeared but one. That one rain drop seemed to make a white diamond on the windshield on Johnny's side of the car. It stayed for the whole ride.

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Lillian:

I wasn't even done reading your post and I was screaming at the computer screen not to destroy those tapes when you first mentioned it -- those are the fabric of you, raw and unedited. I'm saying this as a child of my parents, imagining what I would do if I found such a thing, and quite frankly it would be an honor to know a part of them I never knew before. The face they put on for me as parents wasn't all they were -- They were intimate, living beings with a full spectrum of emotions, dreams, hopes, etc. too, and never really shared that with me (we just don't seem to do that openly in our society much for some reason). If I ever found such a thing, it would be like uncovering a treasure.

If your kids get upset finding such a thing, and get mad that you didn't share that depth of relationship with their dad....well, that's their problem -- it's who you are and that's enough. You blossomed in your self with Johnny -- those tapes really hold the treasure of you and that's really a rather sacred treasure.

Never, ever destroy a cherished part of you for someone else's opinion...ever!

If YOU decide one day that YOU want that part of you to remain between you and Johnny and unobserved by anyone else, that's your call to make. There is no right or wrong here. It's really what you are comfortable with revealing about yourself. In the meantime, if having those tapes to watch for yourself bit by bit bring you comfort, or help you work through things now, keep them -- they are a gift from you to you, really, and no one else.

Hopefully this made some sense! I'm not big on doing things for "political correctness," or just "keeping the peace," can you tell? lol. I generally don't care if some feathers fly from time to time in the interest of truth and getting to be me (just a warning about whether my feedback works for you or not...lol).

Linda

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I don't think you are being selfish at all. If it is something you WANT your kids to see, then write a little note to explain why, and an introduction of sorts of why the things on the tape are so important to you. Maybe then they will understand your need for them to see it- and by seeing it, be able to know you better?...

Now, as a daughter, I would not want to see those tapes, I don't think, unless I knew the new boyfriend/husband well and had good feelings towards him, I would'nt want to see the tape of the life I was not a part of. I think it might confuse the "image" of my parent that I wanted to remember them by.

But I don't know, lilly. I am just guessing here.

Do what is in your heart and it won't be wrong.

Hugs,

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Linda and Katie, thank you. I'm pretty sure I will keep the tapes but not put them out for anyone to see. Like my story I wrote about us they will someday be things that I leave behind. If my children want to know about that part of my life they will make the decision to look at them if not they will destroy them and it will matter none to me because by then I will be with my Johnny again and won't need those memories.

For now I am slowly going through them and watching. It is not easy. I find myself in tears the whole time yet I feel it is also a way for me to heal a little more. I also see things that I didn't know about like the diamond raindrop on Johnny's side of the windshield. Today I saw something I knew was there and once again he reassured me just as it did then. There was also something that I had not noticed before.

I had the radio on in the car turned as always to a Country station. While I was driving I went to the train station. That was a very important place. I had arrived there to see Johnny for the first time in over 40 years. I sat looking at the station and remembering that night out loud. While watching the tape I heard the song that was playing. It just seemed so approprate. The song "If You Get There Before I do". One line says if you get there before I do don't give up on me. I also say I'll be there when my chores are through.

Later on the film I went to Wal Mart. There were so many memories there of him riding the little cart and teasing that he was going to run over me. His telling me that he was going into McDonalds while I shopped and have coffee and me finding him there with coffee and a hanburger after he had already had a big meal. All of those things are good memories but very painfull. The day I made that tape they were close to unbearable.

While driving and filming I was talking to him telling him that I had no more dreams or hope. That the only hope I had was that someday we would be together again. I said "I have to believe in that, if not what is the purpose for this life or for that matter anything?" As I finished that sentence the song "I Believe" by Diamond Rio came on. That song had already become an important sign often coming when I was at my worst. That day it came like an answer to my question. The answer "yes there is another life and we will be together again". The timing is so perfect how could it mean anything else?

So I hold on to them and I take that very painfull trip back in time. I cry and I relive the times I talked about on the film and the pain of the day I made them as well as the deep seated pain that never really goes away. Will it help me move forward more? I'm not sure but somehow I know this is something that I need to do. Something Johnny wants me to do.

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I understand how you feel Lily. I have written daily journals for some years and I often wonder if I should keep them and risk my private thoughts being read after I depart this world. I have mostly written "about" my husband but sometimes I would suddenly start writing "to" him and those were very private "conversations."

I think you should just follow your heart. Love Paddy

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