Tuesday, May 3, 2011


It's one of my favorite words: juxtaposition.

When I learned about it, I was in college.

Perhaps this means that my high school English teachers failed me.

But regardless, that's when I learned and understood the term for what it was (according to Webster): 
"an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast."
In literature - juxtaposition often places opposites next to one another or in juxtaposing line positions in order to make a point.  
Yesterday was like that for me.
We went to be much earlier than 11:30 PM, and even if we had been awake, we don't have television service at our house, so the breaking news would not have reached us unless we were on the internet watching it explode.  When I woke up in the morning, there was really only one thing on my mind.  My daughter was three years old.  Yesterday was her birthday.
I came downstairs alone, a rarity for me, normally I have both children snuggled next to me in bed and parading down the stairs with me as morning breaks.  Yesterday morning, both kids slept in.
I made some tea and hopped on the computer to see the latest and greatest of facebook and twitter, and realized immediately what had happened.  Osama Bin Laden was dead, killed by a group of SEALs, and an era of terrorism had symbolically come to a close.  I was floored by the reactions of the people all across the web.  I had little time to form my own thoughts as I read the celebratory remarks and then the remarks chastising the celebrants.  I read the cries for peace and the cheering with raised spears.  I saw the differing headlines...  I saw the outcries of "political stratego" and the pleas to "bring the troops home now".  It all hit me as many waves washing over me one and then the next.  I sat staring at the computer screen and reading and reading and then I realized, after sitting there for forty-five minutes, that my daughter had, at some point, come wandering down the stairs.  She was sitting at the kitchen table with leftover birthday cake from yesterday's early bird party for a well balanced breakfast.
It was her birthday.  
She was wearing pink and purple BatGirl pajamas and a tiara.  Her hair was curled under just slightly and completely unkempt.  She was holding her toes in her fingers and watching me as I read.  

I realized how strange my priorities were at that moment.  How strange we all must be.

There are things across the world that captivate our attention and the things in front of us - the three year old princesses eating breakfast birthday cake - sometimes they are neglected for these.  

We are captivated by violence.  We are captivated by political debate and logic and the bantering of reason with friends and relatives and random people with whom we never had so much as coffee and our lives are happening all around us while we focus on this...other.

This is not me trying to say that what happened on May 1, 2011 wasn't important.  I don't think anyone will venture to say it wasn't an historical moment, whether you feel it is a celebratory or somber occasion.  But for me, in the midst of the chaos and conflicted emotions I find it best to close the laptop for a time and grab some leftover birthday cake.  There will be historic moments many times in my life. I have already lived through several.  These will be replayed on the news, they will be written about in the papers, they will be displayed for all to see on YouTube and facebook and tweeted and blogged and missing it will probably not be an option.  My little girl turning three?  That's once in a lifetime.  And there won't be journalists to chronicle the day.  There will just be me.  And my camera.  And my beautiful daughter and son.  

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