Looking for loss

I’m at the end of another busy day, settling into bed, ready to tackle the last 20 pages of the book I’ve been enjoying over the past fortnight. The cats are on the bed for their 15 minutes of maximum comfort. I put down the smartphone, telling myself I’m satiated with objectionable news for the day.

I open the book and suddenly remember there was one last thing I had to look at on the phone. Wait. Didn’t I have to download and prep another show for tomorrow morning’s radio schedule? Did I take my pills?

Something feels amiss. It does a lot these days.

I’d taken my father’s widow out for lunch but passed on visiting their apartment. I decided not to answer several calls that had come in. I’d meant to start this piece.


I am wondering whether I’m having a Rosebud moment, a continuous ache where something deeper than I can easily remember is haunting me. A loss of some sort.

I referenced another Orson Welles film recently. Now I recall Citizen Kane as an old man, stumbling angrily around his bedroom, blindly smashing things until he finds a small snow globe and mutters that famous last word, “Rosebud.” For him, it all had to do with his mother’s decision to give young Charlie Kane away as a child, to better his and her family’s fortunes.

I’m thinking of the way truly great art recognizes the loss we all carry within. Or renders it so others can recognize a sense of loss within themselves.

“Where is your loss?” Fawn asks me as I stare ahead, book open but unread before me.

I don’t know. I’m not even sure I want to know for certain. But I sense myself getting closer to a point where I can render it for others. Bergman and Fellini did. Shakespeare does. Pollock and Rembrandt and Louis Nevelson get it. Richard Russo and sad traveling Jack Kerouac. Beethoven and Van Morrison, and the wailing laments of the Louvin Brothers. Aretha and Beyonce and Amy Winehouse and Laura Nyro.

I ask my wife to turn out the light. In the darkness the loss I’m seeking to define feels closer.

But so does sleep, which is where all loss shines without vulnerability or hurt.

Until we wake again.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.