Moy Moy used to talk. Most people who know her now have no memory of how she once was, but a devoted little group still does. We tell the stories often to keep the memory green.
Moy Moy used to talk. She used to tell jokes; she even had - at four - a flair for the dramatic. Once on a Sunday, I asked her: "Moy Moy, are you ready to go to Church?" She raised both arms over her head like a born again zealot and said fervently: "Hallowed be Thy Name!"
And she had a sly sense of humor. Once I found her with both hands in a katori of salt - I said, "Moy Moy, no!" She looked up at me and said "Cake!" I said "Moy, that's not cake." and with a fetching little smirk, she said, "Fooled you!"
She was four years old.
At five, her sentences became phrases. A few months later, she only had two words at a time. Then one. And then it was back to babbling. She lost her language in the same order in which she had gained it.
As it became clearer to us that Moy was losing the ability to speak, that she was regressing, I often told myself I should record her, that I should capture the sound of her voice to remind us later of what she had once been like. I never did it. At the time it seemed like too much of a concession to reality, an admission of what we weren't yet prepared to acknowledge.
But now Moy Moy is 21 and she doesn't speak at all. I can still recall the last words I heard her say, after the prayer I would recite for her at bedtime:
Angel of God, my guardian dear
To whom God's love entrusts me here
Ever this night, be at my side
To light, to guard, to rule, TO _ _ _ _
I would leave the blank and Moy would fill in: "GUIDE!" with a shout of pleasure and triumph. Then she would say:
"Goodnight. I love you."
That response got shorter and shorter. The last time I remember actually hearing her speak it was those two words that she chose: "Love you."
Whether it's what I now choose to remember or whether it was what she actually said last doesn't matter. She loves us. We love her. It's the truth and, last words or not, it's all that matters.