Our neighbors the Martins lived less than a quarter mile away.
Sometimes my brother and I rode our bikes down their long lane, hoping to play with the Martin children:
Carol, Elaine, Danny and Davy.
After I left home for college, I lost touch with the Martins.
Carol’s younger sister Elaine came back into my life after my memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World was published.
Among Elaine’s first contributions was the above picture of her sister Carol and me, taken perhaps in 1952, when we were about four years old.
I never saw this picture until Elaine posted it.
Finding a Martin photo is like unwrapping a gift from another family’s sea of memory.
Gazing intently, I experienced a shiver of sadness and recognition.
In that sea of memory swim two little girls, one who now writes these words and one who no longer lives.
Carol Martin Hottenstein died in 2008 at age sixty.
Nothing in those dark shiny eyes suggests that she will not make it to the biblical three score and ten years.
I feel an obligation, looking at a photo like this one, to live deeply and fully, not only for myself but for Carol and Vicky and the other playmates whose lives were shorter than mine.
Looking at my own face in the photo, I see a particular expression of curiosity and wonder that I know well in two other little faces.
No photo in the Hershey family album ever socked me as hard with recognition as did the Martin photo.
Arms open, eyes wide, we human beings float together on a raft in a sea of memory,
an ocean of time before us and behind us.
Has one photo ever socked you with sadness, recognition, joy, wonder? Have you ever seen yourself in some other family’s photo album?