Grace needs a school photo of herself in 1st grade, for a 5th grade school yearbook project.
And I know exactly which one it is. I can see it in my mind, her blue school dress, necklace with the flower on it that she chose that morning, and most of all, I remember the obligatory 1st grade missing-teeth grin. Every one of my kids has a 1st grade missing front teeth photo. I remember chuckling when the school photos came back that year.
And just like that, the great memories I have are gone. They leave, replaced by what the 1st grade year brought us, diabetes. It was a mere 2 months after the school photo was taken that we found ourselves in the ER of our local hospital, with a diagnosis of Type 1.
The 1st grade photo brings that with it too.
I scour the 5x7 photo and I hold it close to my face. Should I have noticed something? Are her arms thinner here? Her skin looks tight. Maybe my eyes are creating illusions. Don't her eyes look a little sunken in? My God, maybe her eyes were this sunken all the time and I didn't even know! I wonder what her blood sugar was then, if we were slowly creeping toward the D, or we were already firmly planted in it's soil. I will never know. But I scour the photo for clues I missed, for something to say to me ' THERE, see it!' But I don't. I see her.
I find Grace and I give it to her.
Look how cute you were, sweetie!
Mom, I don't have any front teeth!
I know, doesn't that make it even cuter?
I was 6, Mom. I was in Mrs. M's class that year.
Yeah, I know, honey. That photo was taken just about two months before you were diagnosed with diabetes.
Don't you wish we could go back, Mom?
I smile, but I don't know what to say. Do I wish I could go back? Wishes won't get me anywhere on this ride. I can wish and wish and wish, and we will still be where we are. I don't say any of that to her. I simply nod and smile. I don't know what to say.
It's a cute photo of you honey, it will look great for the 5th grade page in the yearbook this year.
Funny how one picture can say so much - sweetness, cuteness, reality, truth, shock, awe.