Emma's Gift / Kehoe, Nancy

By the end of the summer, they were able to move Tonga in with the other young chimps which is where Emma found him on her last day. Like human children, these youngsters have a lot of energy and spend hours chasing each other in games of tag. Emma sat quietly watching them play, remembering how different it had been for Tonga just a few short weeks ago. He had just tackled one of his playmates to the ground when he saw her and immediately ran to give her a hug. Emma held him close and tried to hide the sadness she felt, but she could tell Tonga knew something was different this time. He looked at her, puzzled, then reached out and touched the tear that ran down her cheek.

"Sorry, little man. I promised myself I wouldn't cry but I am really going to miss you!"

Tonga hugged her again and this time he patted her back as if trying to console her but then he ran away. Emma thought he had simply gone back to play with his friends but instead he returned carrying the toy elephant she had given him weeks earlier and he handed it to her.

"Why are you giving this to me Tonga? It's your favorite toy" she said giving it back to him but he refused to take it. Instead he placed it back in her lap and looked up at her with doleful eyes.

Emma picked up the toy elephant and held it to her heart, understanding now what he was doing. She had given him the toy elephant when he was heartbroken and alone and now he was giving it back to her. Emma kept that toy elephant her whole life and it always had a special place in her home and in her heart."

Alex was waiting for her in the jeep when she came out. He could see she had been crying so he put his arms around her as she sat hugging the toy elephant.

"Never gets easy, does it, my love?" he said as they drove off. Emma looked back one last time and smiled. "Never," she said.
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