So sad that these people that had truly come to know our son would seem so indifferent to the only mother and father he had ever known when they described his passing to us. They fed, played, and cared for him for almost three years, and I believe in my heart that they had come to love him too, but not like Judie and I did.
We met Louie on Christmas Eve in 2003. The owners of the facility where we had adopted his brother, Mikey, sent us an email with a picture attached of a fuzzy little baby boy. He was 4 months old at the time. They said in the email that we just had to have him – that he was going to be small and was very lovable. We fell in love that cold Christmas Eve, and three months later he was home with us.
Louie was a very special son. He was smart, kind, gentle to all living creatures, and had a wonderful disposition. He loved his Vitamin Water and his Saturday morning pound cakes. He loved puppies and his big brother. He loved bellies – fat or skinny, old or young – he never met a belly he did not love. He bottle fed bear cubs, baby monkeys, and even a few children. But most of all, he loved Judie and I. He touched tens of thousands, maybe millions of lives. He performed at schools, nursing homes, colleges, people’s backyards, and on the television. He worked with Conan, Human Giant, All Time Low, and for Oprah. He was the face of Monkey Butt Powder, Citizens Bank, and at times the powerful Philadelphia radio station WMMR.
But in our lives, he was just our little Boo-Boo – the cutest little snaggle- toothed sweetest chimpanzee that anyone will ever know. Judie and I loved him with all of our heart, and all of our soul. In the last few months that the chimps lived with us, our hearts were broken because we knew that as they got older and stronger, our ability to keep them safe from harm and all of the world’s dangers were quickly coming to an end and that we needed to find for them a place where the dangerous world we live in would not bring them harm, and Little Rock Zoo offered them a sanctuary of sorts. They would be safe, and they would be together, and they would never have to leave. That was less than three years ago. Now Louie is gone to this mysterious disease, and Mikey is left all alone, missing his baby brother. Our hearts ache for the loss of our Louie, but they ache more for Mikey’s loss of his true best friend and his companion of over seven years.
I missed Louie every day as I went about my life since the chimps left, as familiar things I would think of or see would bring back the sweet memories of our time together. Just walking through a grocery store would take me back to things they love, and then it would take hours sometimes to shake off the emptiness that I would feel after seeing a simple container of pudding on a shelf. It has been said that losing a child is the hardest thing any parent will ever have to face, and now we understand. The hurt is profound, and the sense of loss is unbearable. We love you little Boo Boo, and we always will. Please watch over your big brother as he searches for your soul in the wind. We are sorry we couldn’t have been there to help you in your time of pain and suffering, and for that I will never forgive the people that we entrusted your care to – as they never even told us you were sick. We will cross our celestial paths once again in whatever lives there are beyond this one, and I will look for you to give me your biggest hug and shake your little butt for me as you did here on earth.