I “met” Jeff Brailey on Facebook sometime – as I recall – within a month after publication of the 2007 edition of the jonestown report. We were fellow contributors, and one of my joys in writing these articles is to see how other authors handle the same subjects I am interested in. Jeff’s insights touched me in a stirring way since – like myself – he was never associated with or joined Peoples Temple, but was deeply and permanently affected by the Jonestown aftermath.
Jeff and I slowly developed a friendship of our own by relating political views, many laughs, musical tastes and a myriad of other subjects, but none more important to me than discussing our own chronic disabilities, namely his Parkinson’s disease and my disabling stroke. We’d been in touch with each other a couple of times a week. He’d be absent from Facebook for a few days at a time due to bouts he had with Parkinson’s. Then, maybe a week or two later, he’d resurface and be just as active with his posts and humor. The richness of his spirit made it easy to forget his health problems which were only made apparent due to his periodic absence.
Over the years I had come to view him as a great friend and one I looked forward to hearing from and interacting with, if only ever on Facebook. It’s odd how deeply and real a relationship can be with someone you’ve never actually met. I experienced all the feelings one associates with a friendship… except the one aspect of actually meeting each other.
Jeff died early this year. I will miss his vigorous personality along with the warmness and generosity of spirit that was so apparently part of him. I am so glad that my friend spent his final few years with the love of his wife, Lori. I pray she knows he made quite an impression on those in and around his life, and the true essence will remain in her to keep in a warm place in her heart.
Rest well, Jeff. Your friend, Susan
(Susan White Hicks is a regular contributor to this site. Her complete collection of articles may be found here. She can be reached at email@example.com.)