How can one articulate the essence of bearing witness to another’s existence? It involves neither embodying their persona nor engaging directly with them. Instead, it’s centered on a profound observation and immersion in their life’s journey, often interwoven with our own as time elapses. In the event of one’s passing, when one half of the duo departs, the role of the witness ceases to exist, rendering the survivor solitary, deprived of that shared soul.
Regrettably, I observe the expansion of my circle of fellow widows. With each addition, there arises a bond to offer comfort and assistance, which invariably rekindles the memories of my own grief and, at the same, love. Those widows who have provided me with support up until now have echoed similar sentiments and experiences. I hold them in high esteem and treasure them intensely.
A Witness to Your Life
It’s been 930 days: nine hundred and thirty days and nights since Chip passed away. During this time, I’ve immersed myself in endless hours of reading, watching films, and dedicating myself to work just to stop thinking. On one particular afternoon, I stumbled upon “Shall We Dance,” featuring Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, and Stanley Tucci. This was a movie Chip and I had watched together years back, and one scene profoundly resonated with us. It takes place in the bar between Beverly Clark (Susan Sarandon) and the private investigator she hired, Mr. Devine (Richard Jenkins).
Beverly Clark: We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying, ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’
These 79 words summarize the true meaning of marriage or a long-term relationship. The simple fact is that one person knows you and is there for you no matter what. They bear witness to your life and, in turn, get you through it. That loss is insurmountable. There is no replacement. The solace can come from memories of the joys you shared together.
Why do I tell you to be a witness?
Because it is a gift that some of you may not realize you have in your possession. I knew it, and I think Chip did, too. We had been through so much, and sadly, I now experience the most challenging part without him. But I don’t think I am alone. His presence is in Amelia and Jack and even this crazy bulldog that he loved for only three short months. There are times when she looks me in the eye or puts her head on my shoulder, and I feel it…whatever ‘that’ is.
Be a witness to your significant other. There is no better way to experience it than truly understanding what you have standing before you.