Your Witness: what does any one life really mean?
by Mark Heckler
(Maryland's Eastern Shore)
I retired a year and a half ago. My wife didn’t. She is two years younger and seems actually to like work, or perhaps needs it to stay busy. I didn’t and don’t.
We met when I was 17 and married when I was 20, nearly 41 years ago. In the grand scheme of things I have already won the lottery of life. On our 25th anniversary trip to Aruba back in 1999 fate smiled on us once again, as we met and for seven days were inseparable from two amazing ladies from Cleveland.
Serendipity you might say, as we have been the best of friends ever since. It seems right that we got together, because as we were checking in to our all-inclusive, beachfront resort the horror of Columbine was happening live on the lobby TV.
Anyway, my wife wanted to visit them in Cleveland for the long Memorial Day weekend and our son and daughter-in-law wanted to go along and help with the driving. I just didn’t quite feel like it this time, so I opted to stay home to dog-sit our two and their two.
They left early Friday morning and returned late in the day on Tuesday, so I was alone in the house for four nights with our dogs. I usually do very well alone as I consider myself great company. But this time I felt my aloneness acutely and missed my wife greatly.
It called to mind something I heard in a movie a few years ago; at the time our son had been divorced for eight lonely years, and I was becoming intensely worried about his prospects for happiness.
To quote, “We need a witness to our lives.
There's billions of 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 to your spouse: ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’
I had copied that passage into the family journal I kept for the better part of 35 years to give to our children, and when I found and re-read it in my hour of loneliness, I didn’t feel lonely any more. Even though my wife was 400 miles away in Cleveland, enjoying friendship and a full weekend of partying, I knew she has been my witness for the past 40-plus years, and I slept peacefully that night.
I hope you have a witness to your life too.