Witness

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It started with a simple invitation. “My apartment will be empty over Yom Kippur; you’re welcome to stay here.” Standing in my friend’s kitchen, preparing for Shabbos, it seemed rather simple. What she forgot, however, was that her boyfriend was there too. The boyfriend with whom she had recently moved into this new apartment. It wasn’t her apartment, it was theirs.

He reminded her of this. I tried to make myself as small and out of the way as possible while they started discussing their relationship, opening up old debates, touching on sore topics. I tried to excuse myself to the living room, but they followed me out there, continuing to talk. I feigned a yawn, curled up on the sofa, and hoped we could all just settle down for some naps. (It had been a long Rosh Hashanah.) As they continued talking about their relationship, I grew increasingly uncomfortable, until, finally, I said I could go for a walk to give them their privacy. “No, stay. It would be good to have a witness to this.” She continued, chuckling a little, “You could be like our couples therapist…”

The sofa was comfortable, I was tired, and it just seemed simpler to stay where I was. I decided to try to tune them out. Instead, I heard my good friend, with whom I had had many abstract conversations about marriage and children over the years, make those topics personal. I was shocked. Here was my friend who had never seemed interested in marriage, who had expressed that she did not ever want to get married, talking about marriage. Here was my friend who had voiced reasons for never wanting to get pregnant, for never wanting to have children or raise them, talking about having children.

I was blown away by the emotion. I was trying not to cry. I was so honoured to witness their conversation about their future: wanting to get engaged, plan a marriage, commit to one another, plan on spending their lives together, having babies and raising them together. My efforts were for naught. As they continued talking, making their wants and desires known to each other, tears rolled down my cheeks.

My role as couples therapist was short lived. The only thing I said in that capacity? How proud I was to hear my friend express herself, to witness how much she had grown in this relationship. And how honoured I was to have witnessed it all. B’sha’ah tovah!

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