Say Hello To the Person In the Seat Next to You On the Burning Plane

11 Nov

I’m still alive! Just busy.

I’ve been watching a lot of movies, but haven’t had time to blog about them. I’ve been working on fiction, and wrote up an entry on Mudder of Dragons about my trip to New York and I’m working on another one for tomorrow. Go check it out if you’re bored or stuck in traffic!

Patricksponaugle linked to an amazing Oatmeal comic on Twitter last night and reading it really gave me pause. Here it is:

It’s going to be okay.  

You need to read it. Right now. Don’t save it for later, don’t scroll past and think ‘Oh I’ll read that later’ like I almost did, because I am NOTORIOUS for such and then forgetting. Just read it. It takes less than five minutes.


If we are alive and reading this, we’re all on that burning plane RIGHT NOW, and we all have the opportunity to tell someone ‘It’s going to be okay.‘ Half of the act is saying it out loud – the other half is believing it yourself once you’ve said it.

It’s easy to gloss over the nuance of human suffering with what seems like a platitude… but really, it’s true. Holding on to hope in times of desperation is one of the best things about humanity – maybe that sounds like bullshit off a greeting card, and people say it all the time in situations when things AREN’T going to be okay and bad things happen anyway… but that isn’t what life’s about.

It actually reminded me of something that happened to me, one of my life’s great regrets.

The rest of this entry is behind a cut because it deals with the death of a family member and a personal failing on the part of the writer. I invite you to read it, but please be warned, it’s depressing.

In January of 2009, we visited my Granddaddy in the nursing home for his 92nd birthday. He was alert, chatty, and as always, overjoyed to see me. He was one of the few people in my family who weren’t moody or distant, who always put others before him, and who would put his strong will to work for others rather than against them. He cracked jokes and told us stories about the days he ran moonshine in the West Virginia mountains and sold to the governor of the state.

In summer, we got a call from Granddaddy’s girlfriend (my Nana passed a few years before, but Granddaddy was a huge flirt and found a lovely woman to spend his time with). Bad news— he was very, very sick.

We visited, and he was barely the same person. He lay in bed with a stricken expression, occasionally gasping in pain, or crying out at random. The visit was incredibly depressing, and we all knew we would probably be seeing each other at a funeral, soon.

My father was determined to have a good time and put on a happy face. He told me to stand next to Grandaddy and take his hand and smile so he could take a picture.

And I couldn’t.

I was angry, I was bewildered at Granddaddy’s sudden turn, but most of all I was wrapped up in my own dramatic bullshit and I couldn’t imagine pretending I was fine when I wasn’t. I sat down and held his hand, and my father took a picture of us anyway and I had the most hateful and angry look on my face, so he deleted it later. I almost wish he’d kept it so I could remind myself what I look when I’m being a huge, selfish asshole. Suddenly, it was about me being spiteful toward my father instead of being there for someone who was afraid and nearing the end.

A few weeks later my Granddaddy died.

I couldn’t put someone else’s happiness ahead of mine and tell them it would be okay, and it’s one of the great regrets of my life. 

So from me to you, I hope you’ll hear me and believe me when I say It’s going to be okay. 

And please, take a moment to say it to someone else, to pass it on and maybe add ‘is there anything you need that I can do right now?’


13 Responses to “Say Hello To the Person In the Seat Next to You On the Burning Plane”

  1. Erika @ November 11, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    Not what I expected from an Oatmeal comic – thanks for sharing it!

    • jennnanigans November 11, 2015 at 10:34 am #

      He can be very profound sometimes, in between the goofiness. Do you ever read Zen Pencils?

  2. Nicholas C. Rossis November 11, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    Amazing stories – both yours and the Oatmeal’s.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, though. You can’t help how you felt at the time. You can only make sure you don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. Plus, I’m sure your grandfather knew you loved him. As I often say, we’re better than our worst moment. The same applies to relationships 🙂

    • jennnanigans November 11, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

      You’re absolutely right – all I can do is make sure I don’t repeat the mistake. Thanks so much for the observation, it means a lot! 🙂

      • Nicholas C. Rossis November 11, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

        We really are our own harshest critics, aren’t we? 🙂

  3. patricksponaugle November 11, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

    Hey, thank you for sharing the story. It’s tough when an older loved one is in such straights. *virtual hugs*

    • jennnanigans November 20, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

      Ah, I just saw this. Thank you for the virtual hug! 🙂

  4. Steven November 20, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    Your story hits pretty close to home, because I’m watching my father’s health decline in real time. I’ve been to the hospital three out of the last four days right after work. It’s exhausting and depressing and stress-making. I completely identify with both versions of you, the one who couldn’t smile for that picture, and the one who regrets that path now.

    • jennnanigans November 20, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

      Gosh I am so sorry to hear that. What’s his diagnosis?

    • jennnanigans November 20, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      Either way, I am sorry to hear it and I hope that things get better. Hang in there.
      I saw you took a break from FB, no wonder between that and all the vitriol splashing around the feeds. I will keep your family in my thoughts!

... but what do YOU think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Struggle

YouTube Channel

science fiction movies, reviewed and dissected ruthlessly. full autopsy.

One Working Mommy

Follow me for reflections on motherhood through the eyes of one working mommy.

J. A. Allen

Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins


Intelligent Black Thought.

Writing Is Hard Work

Musings of a hard working writer.

Janet Carr @

This Bug's Life

I create worlds. John E. Brito's Blog

Behind the scenes of John E. Brito's animated and live action (short) films & comics

Josep Goded

Seeking Truth

Stuff White People Like

This blog is devoted to stuff that white people like

Dark Matters

For Well-Rounded Blerds and POC Nerds

Examining the Odd

literature, visual art, music and film

My Year Cooking with Chris Kimball

Recipes from Cook's Illustated, Cook's Country and America's Test Kitchen

The Entertainment Patrol (and general musings)

My musings about everything from entertainment to life!

Writer's Haven

Words from heart

Lovecraft eZine

Weird Fiction, Cosmic horror, and the Cthulhu Mythos


Musings, Short stories, Inspiration.


Howling For Justice!

“I used to want to be an astronaut, but astronauts don't even go to the moon anymore.”

Food, drinks, style, and humor


The Hive

Carmilita's Handmade Jewelry

handmade bead jewelry

Mark My World

Hacking life while enjoying everything in between

Really Awful Movies

Horror Movies, Science Fiction, Exploitation, Action, Genre Films.


Poetry, free verse, haiku, senryu, photography, books, art, philosophy , nature.


Your Source for Honest Commentary and Reviews

Rob Powell Writes

Let's see where this goes, starting with some short stories and flash fiction.

Opinionated Woman

Opinionated women of the world, unite!


New Perspective on Life

What's Your Chic?

Your Chic. Your Style.

Meditating Millennial

A Millennial's Journey Into Meditation and Mindfulness


Leave a little sparkle wherever you go!

word and silence

poetry & prose by Tim Miller

Blog of the Dragon

Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire news, theories, and other nerdy goodness


"Find what you love and let it kill you." – Charles Bukowski

Mostly about poetry, madness and darkness


Erotica City of London Russia Confessions

The Gymternet

The ultimate gymnastics news. For the ultimate gym nerd.


Exploring wise-craft and weirdness

%d bloggers like this: