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.