WHY DID THEY ask me for an essay about stopping writing? And why did I say yes? Did I tell someone I’d stopped? Have I stopped? I could, if
I wanted to, couldn’t I? I’m seventy-seven and I’m pretty tired. And lately I think I’ve copped what the French call ‘un coup de vieux’: a blow of old. I’ve got arthritis in my left wrist, my right knee gives twinges, and my left foot sometimes aches and stabs all day. Other days, nothing hurts at all. I don’t know what this means. I’ve read that when people are grieving over the death of someone they love they can suffer from ‘shooting pains’. My dear friend in France died a few weeks ago. I knew he was going to, he was awfully sick, but when the email came and I saw the words ‘died last night’ it was like a punch in the chest. I didn’t cry, I was numb and I still am, but for whole days I had to keep sighing and sighing as I went about my business, I couldn’t seem to fill my lungs; and sheets of silvery pain went fleeting through me, moving in flashes up and down my limbs and in and out of my joints and across my lower back. I could only move slowly and I heard myself grunt like an old woman whenever I sat down or stood up.
I am an old woman.
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