We received my daughter’s school pictures today. It’s a day I’ve dreaded since March. Not literally because it was her sixth grade pic – for such an awkward age, I think she looks pretty darn cute, actually.
The school pics are proudly displayed in side-by-side, 8×10 inch silver frames. Each year when we receive new pics, I open the frames, look through those from years past and then add the new one to the front. Then I replace the frame in its place of honor, near the backdoor, which sees way more traffic than the front, so they get a lot more views that way.
This year, I have only one to update. My son’s seventh grade school picture is the last one we will ever have. It won’t change. He’s gone forever. My daughter’s pictures will update each year; she will grow and change, and he won’t.
When I placed her updated picture next to his, it didn’t look right. They were almost three years apart in age, two years apart in school. Now she looks only a year behind him. Next year it will be her seventh grade pic, then eighth. At some point, she will look older than he does. She will move on to high school. Senior pics. Graduation photos. College. Hopefully, a wedding photo, then family portraits with her own kids.
And all we’ll ever have of my son is his seventh grade school picture.
I’ve had this conversation with my dad, who asked what I thought he should do with the photos in his own home. My husband and I have also had this conversation. None of us had an answer.
And now the day has arrived, and I need to make a decision, for my own state of mind. I looked through his school pics, thinking maybe I’d just replace the seventh grade one with an older one, one from elementary school, when he still had that utterly adorable baby face, when we could not in a million years have imagined let alone predicted his life would be cut short at thirteen.
It still didn’t feel right.
And then I thought about the plethora of baby pics. You know how it is in the first few years. You take a million pictures and save every one. I found an 8×10 from when he had just turned four, and my daughter had passed her first birthday only a few months prior. One of my favorites. Possibly the favorite.
I slid it into the frame in front of the school pics and replaced it on the shelf. And you know what? It works.