JOHNNY CASH HEARTBREAK: 'GOD, TAKE ME WITH JUNE'

Published on: May 28, 2003

After an ailing Johnny Cash made the agonizing decision to remove life support from his brain-dead wife, friends began fearing for Johnny -- knowing his own heart was shattered beyond repair.

The Man in Black began a bedside vigil next to his beloved wife of 35 years, June Carter Cash, after she underwent heart surgery. But soon it became clear she was losing her battle.

After the plug was pulled, Johnny's precious wife lingered for three days. He watched her life slowly slip away until her heart finally gave out on May 15 as he sat by her side.

"It's the most devastating thing that could happen to a man -- and we are deathly afraid that Johnny won't wait long to be with June in heaven," a source close to the family told The ENQUIRER.

"He was close to tears as he told family members, 'I've been through a lot of pain in my life -- but I didn't know what hurting was until now.'"

After June took her final breath, Johnny's eyes filled with tears and he blurted, "I can't go on. God, take me with June. I don't want to live."

Johnny and June had enjoyed one of the most loving relationships in show business. They adored each other -- and worked beautifully as a Grammy-winning duet.

June, 73, seemed to be recovering well from surgery at Nashville's Baptist Hospital to replace a leaking heart valve when she suddenly fell into a coma.

Johnny -- so frail from a recent bout of pneumonia and other ailments that he was in a wheelchair -- stayed by her side, praying and urging her to fight until doctors gently told him on May 12 that there was no hope.

"We were all praying that God would intervene -- Johnny wouldn't have to make the decision to take June off life support," divulged the close source.

For a long time, the 71-year-old country legend sat by June's bedside in intensive care, holding her hand and praying and talking to her lovingly.

Finally he told her, "I love you, darlin'. I always have. I pray we'll be together again one day."

Then he gave doctors the go-ahead to disconnect the machines.

Johnny and June's combined families -- including singers Roseanne Cash and Carlene Carter -- wept as the plug was pulled on one of country music's most admired performers, revealed the close source.

"It was a devastating situation for the entire family."

In the wake of this overwhelming tragedy, confided a pal, "We all are afraid Johnny simply won't want to go on living -- that he'll give up his own brave fight."