In the movie “Shall We Dance”, Susan Sarandon explains why we marry. She says that we marry because we need a witness to our lives.
I was reflecting on this concept when a friend broke up with her married lover, and my first reaction was, “Good Riddance!” My second reaction was sadness, understanding that despite the secrecy, the shame, the illicit relationship and the continuous compromise, her anguish and broken heart is about losing the one person who knew everything.
No more can she share about how angry she is with her daughter, because she is uncomfortable sharing it with friends. No more can she be open about her envy, because she does not wish to expose that side of herself to the world. But he knew. He knew the good and the bad, the beauty and the ugliness, the need, the cry and the exhilaration. And no one knew as much as he did. And the one who knew is gone.
And as we move from place to place, leaving homes and other geographical locations; and as we break up or are being broken up with, leaving people who knew us “when”; and as we change careers, leaving behind a part of our talents, skills, and dreams, we lose the witnesses to our lives. Goodbye to a parent, to a neighbor, to school, to a pet. Goodbye to a lover, a boyfriend, a spouse and a child. Goodbye to our daily habits at the office, and no more dreams of being a singer, a professor, or having your book published. No more dreams of being a millionaire at the age of thirty.
And we go to new places, meeting new people, hoping to create new witnesses to the new life, and sometimes, in this new life that we hold on to so tightly, we need to let go of the old witness, the one who knew us best.