Whistle for me

She disapproved of my therapist relationship with Dr. Ralph. She thought we only had fascinating intellectual conversations, not leading, perhaps, to changes she wanted to see in me. She never met him, nor really knew what we talked about. Perhaps I reported inaccurately. Perhaps, also, it was clinical competitiveness. Apart from her own students, I never heard her praise another psychologist.

Where, oh where, are you now Dr. Ralph? I miss our weekly sessions. I miss our conversations. I miss your insights. I miss your uncanny ability to pull a Sondheim lyric out of the air as an exact analogy to what I was experiencing.

“Anyone can whistle, ” that’s what they say, “easy.”
“Anyone can whistle, any old day, easy.”
It’s all so simple.
Relax, let go, let fly.
So someone tell me, why can’t I?

I can dance a tango, I can read Greek, easy.
I can slay a dragon, any old week: easy.
What’s hard is simple.
What’s natural comes hard.
Maybe you could show me:
How to let go,
Lower my guard,
Learn to be free.
Maybe if you whistle,
Whistle for me.


Once, when I was distraught over a romantic breakup—crazy distraught—he told me he knew from the beginning it would end this way. I asked him why he never told me, and he replied, “Because you were so happy.” He told me that he, too, when in graduate school at Harvard, had a sad, heart-breaking break-up. He asked his professor if the pain, the heartache, would ever go away, and the professor replied, “no, but you will grow bigger.”

Grow bigger.

Minutes ago I learned that a much loved and amazingly vital, loved by all, man at my swimming and rowing club has just today been stricken with a malignant brain tumor. He became disoriented after his morning swim in the Bay.  He’s had surgery, with complications, and remains heavily sedated in the ICU as I write this. It seems this year that every week there’s some new piece of terrible news. 2019 has been a bad year indeed.

How big does one have to grow?

Now, a day later, our friend is on life support, his family has said their goodbyes. He’s not going to make it.

Goodbye, Buck, we miss you already. Since I have been a member of the South End, we have lost Dave, Jim, Andy, Bobby, Dianna, others whom I knew less well; now Buck. Bob Roper’s memorial will forever be stained by being the day my wife told me she no longer loved me and wanted to end our marriage. A double death on the Dreaded 9th of February.  It’s time to leave this place of sad memories.

Dr. Ralph, I need you now. Before I go.


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