Nell and Seneca Discuss Death and Legacies Left Behind
New Year's 1976
(Nell is driving the car Bucky gave her, with Seneca in the passenger seat, on New Year's Eve.)
NELL: (laughs) I love it!
SENECA: Yeah, I know you do.
NELL: It's a wonderful present. Every time I'm behind the wheel I feel as if I'm off on another adventure.
SENECA: I think that was the idea.
NELL: I wish I could think of a spectacular way to say, "Thank you," to Bucky.
SENECA: Bucky knows how much pleasure it gives you.
NELL: Well, now that he's reassured that I'm not going to try to kill myself with it (laughs uneasily) what could I give him that would be as much fun for him as this is for me?
SENECA: Faith Coleridge?
NELL: (laughs) Well, I'm afraid that's a lost cause. It's always been perfectly awful trying to think of presents for Bucky because he has everything. The only thing he ever says he wants is to be a good doctor.
SENECA: You've already given him that. (She looks at him.) Well he says he wouldn't be a doctor if it weren't for you. (She laughs.) I suspect that's true.
NELL: I hope so. That would please me very much. (pauses) Seneca?
NELL: Are you sorry that we didn't have children?
SENECA: (pauses, then laughs, as if trying to laugh it off) That's a little too complicated for yes or no.
NELL: I don't regret it at all. If I were...if we had a child, and I somehow had to prepare him or her for the fact that I am going to die at any minute I don't...I don't know what I'd do.
SENECA: Hey, listen, we're almost to the lookout. Why don't you pull over and we'll just sit for a while, alright?
NELL: Hmm...I'd like that.
(She has pulled over. Get a load of the cheesy background.)
NELL: (sighs) How about that? (sighs) Look at that view!
SENECA: If you don't mind, I'd rather look at you?
(She turns to him and laughs.)
SENECA: What made you start thinking about children?
NELL: It was Bucky, I guess. The idea of sharing what I am with someone else - so that something that's good in me, or that something that I hope is good in me, anyway, doesn't end with me. Oh, I never thought that was a very good reason for having children.
SENECA: Not if it's the only reason.
NELL: On the other hand, I've never been about to die before.
SENECA: What are good reasons for having children?
NELL: Well you have them to love, and to bring people into the world to be whole and free and happy, and you end up, of course, passing on the things that seem important and good to you, and so you get your own little bit of immortality. I just meant that shouldn't be the reason to have them; it's a result.
SENECA: You know what, I've been less than the ideal husband over the past few years. For some of the exact same reasons, that would have made me a disaster as a father, but even so, I still wish I had your child.
NELL: In spite of my dying or because of it?
NELL: (nodding) Ah.
SENECA: One of the most tremendous losses is when a child loses its mother, but, in this case, anyway, I think the greater loss is for the child never to have known its mother at all.
NELL: Thank you for saying that, I think.
SENECA: I'm sorry if it wasn't what you wanted to hear.
NELL: (laughs) Mothering is about the only thing I've missed, isn't it?
NELL: But looking back on it, all the reasons still seem valid: getting through our residencies and my research, your practice plus your research, and then Mount Royal. You know if we'd had a child, then the moment we made a move...
SENECA: Now, you expected to finish your research and then have the babies.
NELL: Only I got mad.
SENECA: Hey, now look. I didn't agree with it, I still think you might have overreacted, but you had reason to be mad. You were right to be mad. And I'm sorry I made you mad. Alright?
NELL: (smiles) Yes. You don't have to make that apology again.
SENECA: No, I just don't want you blaming yourself for our not having a child.
NELL: I didn't mean that before. I do want them, so much. Not just a child - children. And I'm afraid that it's really because of the dying and not being able to let go and wanting to leave you something of me. Only, I guess it's too late to do anything about it now.
SENECA: Yeah, but if there's anything else you'd like, I wish you'd tell me.
NELL: (grinning) I want to go home and begin the New Year with your arms around me.
(They kiss as saxophone background music starts playing.)
(In the next scene, they are wearing robes, sitting in front of the fire, with champagne glasses.)
SENECA: To the New Year and to you and to us.
NELL: And to all the time we didn't waste.
NELL: And to the children who are not and to my loving you and to my always loving you.
SENECA: (smiles) And to hope.
NELL: Yes, that's a lovely way to start the New Year - with hope and a kiss and with icy champagne.
SENECA: Exactly what I was thinking.
NELL: Thank you for this.
SENECA: For which?
NELL: For this time, for getting me - all of me, my whole self - through the aneurysm and the surgery. The thing that frightened me most right from the beginning was that one of the aneurysms would go and I'd survive, only I wouldn't really be alive.
SENECA: I understand.
NELL: (sighs) I'd rather be dead than that.
SENECA: Yeah, well, you're not. You are here and it looks to me like you're just about ready for tennis.
NELL: That would be the best exercise of all for my right arm, wouldn't it?
SENECA: You bet. Maybe I'll win a game or two before you get your serve back.
NELL: Hey, that is not chivalrous!
(She playfully punches him in the shoulder.)
SENECA: My goodness, there's nothing wrong with that arm, I'll tell you.
SENECA: Where are you, right now?
NELL: Well, actually, I'm a little afraid to tell you.
NELL: Well, because it sounds obsessive, even to me.
NELL: I was back to death again. Not morbidly, but speculatively. What is it?
SENECA: Now you're not asking for a medical definition?
NELL: (nodding) No. When I find out, I wish that I could come back and tell you.
SENECA: Try it.
NELL: If I can, I will. My grandmother said that someone was waiting for her to help her through.
NELL: (drinking) Uhm-hmm.
SENECA: Who was waiting?
NELL: Well there seemed to be several people. It was the year before I started school and she was eighty-six.
SENECA: Ah-hah, an age for you to aspire to.
NELL: Alright. Well anyway, she said that they were there, waiting to help her die. Hmm...she was quite calm and happy about it.
SENECA: You know, I'd wish that kind of death for anyone I love.
NELL: I wonder if she'll wait for me.
SENECA: I don't know.
NELL: I'll wait for you.
(He kisses her as the saxophone music plays again.)
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