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Besides being a fun word to say, juxtaposition is defined as “the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect”. I feel like the lives of my family and friends are juxtaposed.

On the one hand, I have family and friends who have gone on the trip of a lifetime to Europe. One family couple has just returned, one couple is on a river cruise right now and one couple is anticipating their trip in two weeks. How exciting! Our good friends have just left for their winter residence, which is like months of vacation time for them. Our daughter has just bought a new condo and is looking forward to moving in to it soon. My extended family has had five babies born within the last three years!

On the other hand, I have family and friends who are fighting for their lives with life-threatening illnesses. There is a family member who is awaiting triple by-pass surgery. Another friend is undergoing chemo with aggressive cancer. A long-time friend has non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver and doesn’t qualify for a transplant. A family member was just placed in a health center with advanced dementia. Another friend is awaiting a hip replacement and complete removal of all teeth. The family has another member with the end stages of Parkinson’s disease.

What a contrast my days are as I communicate with family and friends. I am well aware that all of these things are the rhythm of life, but at this stage in my life the good and the bad seem more pronounced. Maybe it’s that as I get older, I see things that often take place later in life. The family and friends that are traveling, are all retired. They have the time and the accumulated means to take trips. Conversely, as people age, the body struggles with health issues.

I think that if I didn’t see these contrasts, I could become overwhelmed with shared grief. If it weren’t for the babies being born, it would be easy to focus only on the end of life, not the circular aspect of life. . Maybe these juxtaposed situations remind us to keep the balance in our lives. Maybe it also makes us more sensitive to the needs of others. And maybe it reminds us to celebrate the gift of life that we receive each day.

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