What an incredible year. Iâ€™ve been thinking for a few weeks about how to sum up what an inspiring, life-altering year itâ€™s been. There really are no words! But I will try my best.
For me, the high points have been in the little moments. Of course the chimpsâ€™ arrival, the first time they went outside, and the first time they saw snow â€“ those were amazing moments that I felt so honored to be a part of. But the little moments – quietly sharing a stolen minute with one of my chimpanzee friends – those are what hold everything together.
Early on, I remember Foxie seeing herself in a mirror. She was enthralled, of course. She was seeing herself for the first time. She had the sweetest, most curious look in her eyes. I have loved that girl from that day forward!
I remember watching Jamie rediscover her interest in coloring, softly grunting with glee as I gave her more and more crayons to create a masterpiece. Something as simple as crayons gave her such joy!
I remember playing the â€œblow in my earâ€ game with Burrito for the first time. He put his ear up to the fence and waited for me to blow. Then he laughed, switched sides, and waited again. Heâ€™s not always eager to play with me, so I savor those moments.
Just the other day, I stood and watched as Annie did a full display â€“ swaggering, pant hooting, running, pounding the wall, slapping the floor. Annie is shy and not very dominant, and I was SO proud of her for strutting her stuff!
I remember watching Missy sitting against the wall in the playroom by herself. Just quietly sitting and looking around. She saw a sock next to her, calmly put it on her arm, and then jumped up and took off running toward Annie with the biggest playface EVER!
For Jody, I remember the first time she prepared for and then decided against spitting on me. During a meal, she got a mouth full of water and walked toward me, very slowly, staring me straight in the eyes with a look that must translate to â€œI.am.going.to.get.you.â€ As is often her approach, she didnâ€™t spit the water right away. She likes to hold it in her mouth for a while. So I went about serving the meal. And then, when I pulled out the nectarines, all of a sudden she opened her mouth and let the water dribble out the side. I was victorious! And the nectarines were my new best friends.
And lastly, for our birthday girl, I have two moments. First, I remember going through Negraâ€™s file with JB. We had just read about the years that she spent in isolation at the Coulston Foundation because she had some unusual test results. Isolation. It was brutal, thinking about what Negra experienced on â€œourâ€ behalf. We tore ourselves away and went out to the chimp area to take our minds off things, and there waited beautiful Negra. I think we must have spent fifteen or twenty minutes just dancing and clapping with her, and she was so joyful. Afterwards, and ever since then, I thought about how much she gives to all of us. She gave up so much during all those years in research, and somehow she still has it in her to cheer me up when Iâ€™m down. Itâ€™s bittersweet.
Second Negra moment: just the other day, Negra gave a caregiver-in-training her first kisses. Itâ€™s marvelous when Negra pouts her lips through the fence to offer us kisses on our wrists. This time, Negra gave her kiss and then proceeded to demand about 8 or 10 more. If thereâ€™s one thing I know for sure â€“ what Negra wants, Negra gets! I hope someday weâ€™ll make up to Negra just a little tiny fraction of what we owe her.
Thanks to everyone for your enthusiastic support of the CSNW family. We couldnâ€™t do it without you and we look forward to many more years together! Stay tunes for more posts and recollections throughout the day!