When a tattered Elmo doll lost a decade ago found its way home to Candy Scarbrough, she felt like she had a piece of her son back too.
Scarbrough’s son, Tucker, died when he was 3. As a toddler, he deeply loved an Elmo doll he called “Melmo.”
“He was an ‘Elmo’s World’ kid,” Scarbrough told “Good Morning America.” “He had an Elmo chair in his room and he carried Elmo everywhere he went.”
Tucker was born in 2005 with multiple heart defects. He had several surgeries and ultimately died after suffering a stroke.
But during his life, his mom said, he “was just like any typical kid.” And Scarbrough, just like a typical mom, got professional photos taken of her precious son — and his Elmo.
The day of the photo shoot in 2007, Tucker’s Elmo was left behind.
“It was devastating,” Scarbrough told “GMA.” “I had to scrounge around for another scruffy Elmo to replace it.”
Earlier this year, Scarbrough’s mother showed her a photo of Tucker she herself didn’t have. That photo prompted Scarbrough to post to Facebook about Tucker, something she told “GMA” she does a few times each year.
A photographer she knows, Megan Flanagan, commented on the photo that she had worked in the same photography studio in the West Town Mall in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2007, when Tucker’s photos were taken.
“Candy and I met through mutual friends in Knoxville,” Flanagan told “GMA.” “When I saw her post, I saw pictures from the studio I worked in, and she wrote that on the day of the pictures the Elmo was lost. I thought, ‘This is too much of a coincidence.'”
Because, as it turns out, Flanagan had found an Elmo in the studio all those year back. She used it there to make kids smile for pictures and then took it with her when she left the studio.
A few months passed after Scarbrough’s post when she got a message. It was from Flanagan. It read, in part, “Has this story come full circle? Could this be his Elmo?”
On Sept. 19, on the day before what would have been Tucker’s 14th birthday, Scarbrough and “Melmo” were reunited.
“I picked him up from her porch,” Scarbrough said. “I opened the bag right there. I guess it took me by surprise, after all these years after losing him, some things sting and some things feel like a wink from the Lord. I smiled, this was happy. And I had a good cry on my way home.”
She said that the pain of losing a child never goes away, it just becomes different.
“When you lose your child you can only hope that somehow something good comes of it,” she said. “Knowing his Elmo made so many children smile throughout the years helps.”
Scarbrough told “GMA” she’s so thankful for the short time she had with Tucker.
“To get Elmo back after all these years was somehow like getting a piece of Tucker back,” she added. “It was almost like getting a message from him, reminding me of his life and taking some of the heaviness off death.”