How can it be that even clowns die? Our community lost a dear soul this week suddenly, without warning. We are shocked beyond measure, devastated.

Vincenzo Tortorici was many things: loving father, larger-than-life personality, accomplished juggler, master of ceremonies, vaudevillian, puppeteer, Buddha scooter jockey and introspective wise old soul. A clown and actor by trade, he made the lives of children a little brighter during their stays at the local children’s hospital. Dr. Pucci was a miracle worker who knew how to set nurse traps with toilet paper, catch invisible balls in paper bags and make children forget where they were for a little while.

I love to laugh and I make my attempts at humor, often funny only because of their feeble nature. I am not a natural; he was, sparkling eyes and all.  I honestly can’t recall a single encounter with Vince where I did not laugh.

We have boys the same age but as they have gotten older their interests have diverged. My interactions with Vince have been reduced to chance encounters in the grocery store or the YMCA. Social media has allowed me to stay in touch, laughing at his musings and putting in a comment or two. Even in the way he wrote you could hear his humor reflected. That’s a skill! Vince signed his posts with a clown face.  :o)  Of course he would.

More than a humorist though, Vince could meditate profoundly over deep questions of spirituality, the root of creativity and on suffering. With his loss we suffer. The void is great. We ask ourselves: Why? How do we hold this grief? How do we get through this? We need to look no farther for the answer than to Vince’s own words.  

“Between suffering and redemption is a blank space.  All we have to do–all we can do–is to create in that blank space, the possibility of redemption.  We can, in that barren no-man’s-land of not knowing, cultivate an openness and the willingness to reframe and reclaim the experience, to have a new understanding revealed to us. Grace, then, comes when we are ready, and not a moment before. And then, it comes as it will, from sources both sought and surprising.”

~ Vincenzo Tortorici, Clown (1968-2012)



Photo: Amy Lesesne