Is the Unwitnessed Life Worth Living?

In the movie Shall We Dance, Beverly Clark (Susan Sarandon) says: “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.’”

twinsAfter the death of my life mate/soul mate, I felt that whatever happened to me in the future wouldn’t matter. He had been the witness to my life. He gave it meaning by that witnessing. During these years of grief, I have used this blog as my witness, writing about all that I have been going through. This witnessing of my grief gave it importance — because of what I have written, I’ve connected with people in a similar situation, and we’ve helped each other get through each new phase of grief.

For all these months (years, now!), I’ve been worried about becoming one of those forgotten old women who lives alone in a dingy apartment, with no one to care about and no one to care about her. It’s not an unusual fear — many women in my situation have the same worries, but we go on with our lives and hope that the fates are kind to us somewhere along the way.

The truth is, even if no one witnesses our life, it still has meaning because each of us witnesses our own live. It has meaning because we live it. That forgotten old woman living in her dingy apartment remembers who she is, who she once was, who she hoped to be. She remembers that she once was loved. She remembers that she once had worth. I only hope she knows she is still important because she still is.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

10 Responses to “Is the Unwitnessed Life Worth Living?”

  1. Joy Collins Says:

    This is one of my fears and one of the things I miss about sharing life with John. Life had more meaning because we shared it. Whatever it was, mundane or monumental, it was important because we were there sharing it with each other. It reminds me of that old adage about the tree falling in the forest. Who will hear us?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’d forgotten, but the tree falling in the forest was one of the things I was going to mention. No one hears the tree, but it still falls, and still created waves. Maybe we do, too?

  2. RiverUnderWater Says:

    Your post made me think. I believe we make an impact on each others lives daily and people will witness that, even if they never know your name. It reminded me that I think doing good with out being noticed sometimes is good. I got the idea from Matthew 6, 4 “so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Even though I quoted the Bible, I think that no matter what belief system someone may hold, this applies to all of us.

  3. Holly Bonville Says:

    I have that fear too. Except for the age, I feel that I am already there.

  4. Ree` Edwards Says:

    Something that every person needs, not just wants, but needs. To be loved and to love another. It’s a ‘trait’ that is born into all of us. Just my humble opinion of God creating man and woman – to share and be a part of another’s life. We all want to be needed as well.
    Just a case in point here: I belong to a certain well known lodge where there are all kinds of people of ages 21 to 91. We gather to dance, talk, (some drink some don’t), and interact with one another. A few have met and married as a result.
    For you Holly: You are never to old. ‘Old’ is a state of mind. We may have to grow up we don’t have to grow old.
    One case was a couple that met there, she in a wheelchair and with cancer. He fell in love with her spirit of living life to it’s fullest. (No, she wasn’t wealthy monetarily) They fell in love and married… oh she was 82 and he was 80. As far as I know he is still pushing her in her chair.
    While not being near that ‘mature’ in age, I guess there is someone out there (somewhere) for me too. And at long last I am ready if there is.
    If not? I can still be loved and needed by someone. (And don’t confuse being wanted with being ‘used’. You’ll know the difference… just let your heart and the Lord guide you.)

  5. rightingitwrong Says:

    I’ve asked this question myself even as a young person. We have such desire to share moments with others, I think sometimes I worry they will have less meaning if they are not shared. It’s an encouragement to be reminded of the meaning we have as individuals, and the worth that we give our own experiences.
    Thank you for sharing and encouraging me today.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m glad you found encouragement in this post. I wrote it to encourage myself, to show myself that even though I no longer have someone to share my moments with, they still exist, still have meaning, still have worth. As do we all. Thank you for your kind words. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one struggling with such questions.

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