December 19, 2018

bearing witness

"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 unwitnessed because I will be your witness.'
-- Susan Sarandon, Shall We Dance?

P.J. bears witness to my intricacies.

I need never tell her that depression has taken me under.  She comes and hugs me and kisses me and then looks on my face, and sees my eyes, and knows.  She sees the half-smile that I struggle to give, the one my muscles fight against.  She bears witness.

She watches me at the dinner table, sees me stare for five minutes at the Mrs. Dash on the lazy Susan in the middle of the table, and says nothing, because she respects what holds me.  She allows me to Be.

She pushes my hair back and strokes my cheek with her thumb, and I force my downcast eyes to look up and meet her gaze, and in it I see love and compassion so intense that I feel a visceral shock and I have to look away.  And this she witnesses.

And she witnesses the days that follow, when I surface and breathe more easily and reach for the salt shaker beside the Mrs. Dash, when I once again consider my food worth receiving savor.  She witnesses the easing and the return.  I push her hair back and stroke her cheek with my thumb, and in my gaze, she sees profound gratitude and the beauty in the eyes of her beholder.

She bears witness.

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