Mother reunited with young son's lost Elmo doll more than 10 years after he passed away

Photo credit: Candy Scarbrough

An Elmo doll that was lost 12 years ago has found its way back to the mother of the child it belonged to more than a decade after he passed away. 

Candy Scarbrough's son, Tucker, was born in 2005 with multiple heart defects. He was just 3-years-old when he died after suffering a stroke. 

Scarbrough said he loved his Elmo toy, or "Melmo" as she says he called it. In 2007, Scarbrough brought Tucker to get photos taken at a studio with his Elmo. They accidentally left the toy behind.

"He LOVED his 'Melmo'. It was his comfort buddy," Scarbrough wrote on Facebook. "I searched high and low after that day until I found a raggedy Elmo clone." 

Earlier this year, after posting a photo of Tucker with his Elmo to Facebook in her son's memory, Scarbrough said she was contacted by a photographer she knows named Megan Flanagan. Flanagan said she worked in the same studio in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2007 where Tucker's photos were taken.

"I worked at JC Penney’s portrait studio in the west town mall during the time we had the Sesame Street set. I took many, many photos of kiddos with that background," Scarbrough recalled Flanagan telling to her. "A Elmo was left at our studio during that time. Four to five years later when I left the studio in 2010, I took Elmo with me as he was a smile making tool I utilized for 1000's of babies. Sooo many smiles were captured because of that Elmo and when I left the studio to begin my business, I asked the district manager if I could take it with me. She said sure."

Flanagan put the Elmo in a box of memorabilia and used it from time to time to make kids smile. Years later, the Scarbrough and Flanagan met, but had no idea about the connection they shared -- until a few weeks ago when Flanagan saw the photo of little Tucker and his Elmo taken at her old studio.

"Has this story come full circle. Could this be his Elmo ?" Flanagan asked.

On Sept. 19, what would've been Tucker's 14th birthday, Elmo was home.

"Yesterday Megan Whitehead Flanagan gave me Elmo. I feel like I'm in some kind of Toy Story scene. 😂 Today I'm celebrating the day Tucker was born with allllllllll the feels. How has it been 14 years?"

Flanagan tells Fox 35 she feels like she has a piece of Tucker with her once again.

"Anniversaries can be bitter sweet, and Elmo certainly has made this one sweeter."