When Big Man finally came home from the NICU – on Christmas Day – my FIL had a special gift for him. It was an adult-sized t-shirt which read, “Big Man (it has his real name) Grows Up” on the front. The idea is, Big Man puts that t-shirt on every year on Christmas Day, and we take his photo in it while he stands next to the tree. Over the years we are able to see just how much he’s grown. He very nearly fits into that t-shirt these days. The first time we put him in it, he was engulfed. But try as I may, I can’t find that very first photo. I have pictures of every other year – minus the years we were moving and traveling when I just forgot – except that first year.
It haunts me, that missing photo. I’ll wake sometimes in the night thinking about where it might be. When he was born, digital cameras were just coming out. The quality of digital photos wasn’t awesome, so I tended to still use regular film. Now I wish we had used the digital. I could have tracked it down on one computer or another. It would be in a file somewhere. I have a stack of negatives in a bag somewhere. I need to go through it and see if I can’t find at least the negative. We have every other photo from the day he came home, except that one. I want to make a collage of all the photos at some point, but I can’t do that successfully without that first photo.
Why is it so important? Maybe because my need to mark his incredible progress. When he was born, we didn’t know if he would get the chance to grow up. The fact he did get to come home, and is growing up, is represented by the photos of him in that shirt. But I still really, really want that first photo. I want to see it all…..all his growing up. I want to remember that little him, the one I was so proud and excited to finally be able to truly mother, after waiting 93 days. It would be normal to have a first Christmas photo next to the tree, right?
I’m determined to find that picture. I can’t recreate it. It has to be somewhere around here. I simply can’t have every other photo from that day but that one particular photo. I’m on a mission. It may take me a few more years, but I will track it down. And I’ll post it when I do.