Dear Tumani

Dear Tumani,

Just a few short days ago, the news of the birth of your tiny new baby made headlines around the world. The announcement gave hope to your critically endangered gorilla population and filled us with excitement.

But no one was more changed that day than you, Mama.

For months, the feeling of new life moving inside you made you feel connected to this baby in a way that words can barely describe. But the moment you actually held her tiny body in your arms and saw her perfect little face looking up at you, you were changed forever.

Even though your body had just been through its hardest task yet in order to bring this life into the world, your physical pain paled in comparison to the utter elation you felt. The world watched as you reveled in the joy of your newfound motherhood, cuddling and kissing her sweet little face as you so gently cared for her. You stole away moments where it could be just the two of you and you bonded with her as only you could.

You are a mother. But most important of all, you are HER mother.

When you joined the ranks of motherhood, you discovered a level of love that you couldn’t fathom before. And you unlocked the ability to imagine no loss greater than that of the perfection which you finally held.

I am so very sorry you weren’t able to hold her longer.

But let me assure you, Tumani, mothers around the world are holding YOU right now. We are grieving with you and surrounding you with love. We are all different, but we are all so very much the same. Just as we mourned with Tahlequah the whale two years ago, we mourn with you. No one understands a mother’s loss quite like someone who has also experienced a mother’s love.

I know how hard it is for you right now, crashing down from your highest high to your lowest low. I heard you and your troop have been able to grieve your daughter, and I was comforted by the news that you were surrounded by “your circle” at this most difficult time.

Grief is such a personal journey, but it is easier to make the journey when you’ve got hands to hold along the way.

Just a few short days ago, we celebrated you and your little miracle. And now, we surround you with love.

Joey Yearous
Joey is a New Orleans native, Dominican alum, and LSU grad who joined the ranks of motherhood in the summer of 2019. She and her Colorado born-and-raised husband, Phil, left their Mid-City apartment for a house on the Northshore about ten days before they welcomed their son, Sam, into the world. A short 19 months later, their daughter Sloane arrived and their caboose Nicholas completed their family 17 months after that. Though she’s always had a passion for writing, it’s her work in whole-home generator sales that pays the bills. Her 3 kiddos keep her busy, but when she’s got a free moment, you can find her cooking, trying new restaurants, and listening to true crime podcasts. A consummate Pinterest fanatic, she’s always looking for her next DIY project or recipe to try. She believes good senses of humor and random acts of kindness make the world go ‘round.


  1. I am one of the primary animal care specialist for Tumani and I appreciate the genuine care and support you beautifully depicted in your writing. Thank you.

    • Thank YOU, Melissa. I can only imagine how difficult this time must be for you all, but please know there are so many of us sending love and support to Tumani and your entire team.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here