Week 6: Frances

Adele is lying in her bed and the alarm goes off. She gets up. We see her sit at her table with a cup of coffee and her iPhone. She makes a call to Paul. She says she had an appointment open the next day and wonders if he would like to take it as their session last week was truncated and she had some lingering thoughts about it

Frances is with Paul -- she says it’s okay. Paul asks what -- she says it’s okay to say she looks tired. She says she is okay but she is hungry. She asks if he has anything to eat. He doesn’t answer right away and she says he has a kitchen, doesn’t he and then says oh it’s against the rules, she’ll be okay. Paul observes she says that a lot, that she will be okay. Is there something she is trying to tell him in that? She sighs. He asks about last night -- her stomach growls and she says see that -- it’s my stomach.

Then she says he reminds her of Izzy -- she told Izzy about the test results and Izzy accused her of being a narcissist and wasn’t that what he said of her last week? Paul says he did not say she was being a narcissist -- he said he told her he thought she should see her sister. Paul asks if Izzy came to opening night. Frances says she saw Izzy at the hospital because Tricia needed to be in the hospital. She was there with Russell and Izzy while they stabilized Tricia. 

Frances says Izzy is reading a book and mentions The Drama of the Gifted Child -- Paul says he knows the book. Paul asks why Izzy was reading that book. Frances says Izzy thinks she had a difficult childhood Paul says the title is misleading because it has nothing to do with intelligence. Frances says Izzy loved it.  Frances says she looked at Izzy and saw she was just a kid and she wanted to tell her something reassuring but when she did, Izzy gave her a look. Paul asks how Patricia is. Not good. Paul says that she told him when Tricia called her at the play she had said she needed her. Frances Tricia thought she was dying. She left the theater and went straight to Tricia’s place and found her there lying on the floor. She bathed her . Paul asked her what kind of state she was in. Frances says she needed Tricia to stop talking about dying and let her help. She shook Tricia. Paul asks if that talk scared her. Frances says she was scared by Tricia talking about dying. She says she wasn’t thinking about anything -- focused on doing for her. She says there was a brief time when things seemed okay then she got her into bed. Tricia wanted her to talk with her. Paul asked what they talked about. She says just gossip -- about the theater and she smiled. Then she didn’t know what to talk about so she reached for a book. And she thought she fell asleep. Then Tricia gripped her hand and said she loved  Frances. Paul says that must have felt good. Paul says that was a very powerful moment, to have that kind of connection with Tricia. Frances says it didn’t last. Maybe 15 minutes later she had a stabbing pain in her stomach and was hallucinating that Frances was her mother. The neighbor helped her get her into the car and she called Russell on the way to the hospital.

Then she thinks Paul is looking at her skeptically. Paul asks why he would view her that way. Paul says he is trying to know more about what is going on with her. Frances says she is scared, sad, hungry, and then she doesn’t know. In the ER, a crowd appeared and pushed her out of the way and a nurse bombarded her with questions and challenged her about what she had done. Paul asks if she felt accused. The nurse made her feel she had kept her home on purpose. Paul ask if she was really questioning her motives and he wonders if maybe her reaction came from her conflicted feelings. He says that is understandable. He suggests that they could explore those feelings. 

The doctor said she had to stay a few days and then they could take her home and it was time to start hospice. Paul asks if that is what Tricia wants. The doctor said it could be a few weeks, 6 at the most. She says she thinks she will quit the play so she can stay and take care of Tricia. Besides she doesn’t like doing theater. Paul asks if hospice means Tricia will have help. Frances says she wants to move in with her and care for her emotionally. Paul asks if she has talked with Tricia about it. Izzy and she were in the cab and processing the news. Izzy started to cry. A bus pulled up with a big ad with the play and that is when she told Izzy she was thinking of quitting. Paul says it is a wonderful impulse but is it possible that she is responding to Izzy’s attitude toward her? Izzy started to rant and that now she plans to make a big entrance into Tricia’s care, that the nurse was right and she should have brought her in sooner. She should go on with the play. Paul says he doesn’t agree with Izzy. Paul says she should feel good about what she did with Tricia and also that it might be a good idea to think more about quitting the play and what the impulse is. He says he is concerned about where the impulse might leave her. He says her sister is going to die and her feelings and fears of loneliness and her career will come back again. He says she can walk away from the play. She says again he is like Izzy that she can’t win with either of them. Izzy had said she felt sorry for Paul because true narcissists can never change. Frances asks if he agrees with her. There is a knock. Izzy is there. She says Tricia is back in the ICU. Izzy makes a smart crack and Frances pulls her away as they rush off to the hospital.


As with Sunil, we are rushing a bit to the conclusion. We’ve known from the outset that Tricia was dying and now we know her death is coming quickly, leaving Frances a lot of emotional work to do. Paul plays a mostly supportive role with Frances  this week, keeping his observations and interpretations fairly soft because it is clear Frances  is very upset and scared and needs that support. She has indeed managed to rise to the occasion with her sister far better than she did with her mother and the danger is that she will abandon too much of her own life now in an attempt both to escape her fears about her loneliness and her fading career and in an effort to atone for her jealousy and her sense of having failed with her mother. Notice that Paul only brings this up at the end and then rather gently. 

© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.