Another Goodbye to Another Good Friend

Jolan Albritton, a long-time family friend, died Thursday. She lived in constant pain for years, with autoimmune and skeletal diseases that baffled doctors for literal decades. She was in that capital-p Pain most of us never have to live with, certainly not an entire adulthood.

The great triumph of Jolan’s death is that her pain has stopped. She had a huge family, who supported her and loved her, and she had friends who cared. Pain is the worst isolation, because nobody can be there with you. They can offer bromides like, “I’m sorry, is there anything I can do?” as if every doctor in the State of Florida missed something–“OH. Just take an Advil and an Alka-Seltzer, and you’ll be all fixed”—or bringing a shiny balloon will ease the hurting. It’s nice to know they care, but…

People mean well, but pain–that true, three o’clock in the morning dark night of the soul pain–you are left to face that alone.

Jolan faced her pain with aplomb and grace. She hurt, but she still cared about others. In many ways, that’s triumph over sickness: you can ravage my body, but you can’t touch my soul, damn you.

Jolan’s life was far too short, and certainly far too difficult, more difficult than most people could stand.

My idea of Heaven is an infinite resort in Vegas. Your room is dependent on how well you lived. If you were okay, but kind of a jerk, you get a crappy little room between the elevator and the ice machine. If you were evil, you’ll be up to your elbows scrubbing dishes for all eternity.

Jolan would have a giant penthouse, with all the luxuries imaginable, right down to the solid gold toothbrush holder. It would be a penthouse where she could throw parties for her innumerable friends and family, with the finest catered food and drink, a pool for the kids, and lots of conversation and fun.

But that penthouse would remain empty much of the time. You see, its tenant wouldn’t be there. She’d be down in the ballroom, dancing up a storm, her pain not even a vague memory anymore.

This is the paradise she deserves. I hope and pray this is the paradise she’s enjoying today.

Requiescat in Pace, my former babysitter. Save a dance for me in a few years.

With love,



5 Responses to “Another Goodbye to Another Good Friend”

  1. I would think the truly evil people would end up in a Motel 6, with trucks dieseling outside of their rooms all night long and drunken demons pounding on their doors, screaming, “Is that you in there, Joe?” And it would always be 4 o’clock in the morning, with never a glimmer of dawn.

    I am sorry for the loss of your friend, tom. I hope she’s kicking up her heels on the ballroom floor with a handsome dancing partner while toasting everyone she passes with a glass of champagne that never empties. Oh, and it’s always Clicquot, of course.

  2. Hello, Tom. I am sorry Jolan suffered so in her life. Who knows why things are the way they are?
    But her dignity and grace in the face of that pain show a spirit that will go on to great beauty and joy now that she is freed from her body.
    I can almost feel that freedom she now has from here!

  3. Condolences. We lost a friend of 40 year this weekend who suffered long, as well. It sounds horrible to say but I was so happy that Darlene has finally moved beyond that.

  4. You know, I have fibro and it’s very well controlled by medication and I feel so lucky that it is.

  5. Very sorry for you loss, Tom and for the pain that your friend had to endure.

    I think people feel like they need to say something to someone’s who is sick or in pain or dying, but of course, saying the truth “I’m sorry” or “There but for the grace of God” or “That sucks” doesn’t seem to be in people’s lexicons, so they mouth platitudes and nonsense.

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