In one room, my mother has what she calls her Jesus wall, where she changes the religious art work, according to the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic church, or her personal whims, I'm not sure. Currently, there is an old framed copy of The Last Supper, which I tell her I vaguely remember hanging in her mother's house in Brooklyn. She corrects me, and says that I must be remembering another well-known painting of two children on a path meeting a guardian angel. There is no use disagreeing with her, she's probably right.
I ask her if she's still got that painting and there's a fleeting look of sadness on her face, as if that painting meant more to her, even though Jesus wasn't in it.
Instantly, I recall that it hung in my grandmother's bedroom, next to a photograph taken by a professional photographer of my mother and her brother, ages approximately five and three, in faded sepia. The photographer focused on their faces and body language (if that was even a term back then). My mother is wearing a loose, flowered dress with a small lace collar, capped sleeves, with a purse strap around her one small hand that disappears into a side pocket. Her other hand is at her side, but touching her brother, who sits as if he can't wait to get out of the little sailor shirt and short pants into something more comfortable. Both of his chubby hands are blurred, but holding a fluffy toy, that could even be a real cat.
But their faces tell the story. She is not smiling but looking upward, as if that's what she was told to do, is quietly angry, or has decided she will endure. Her straight hair is cut short, with bangs and one ear lobe is showing. Her calm is somewhat Mona Lisa-like. Her brother, in direct contradiction, has wispy, mussed hair, his very pose is motion briefly contained. But it's his eyes that get to me, also looking upward, but full of mischief and ready for adventure. They are seated with no space between them and at first glance, look like fraternal twins.
Only in looking closer, can you see how different they were, yet over eighty years later, there is still no space between them. Even though the lands and oceans of war separated them, even though death separated them, there is still no space between them.