A pilot wife kind of lonely

Just the other day I was driving home from work, and I tuned into this song (David Gray, Babylon):

I instantly flashed back to one lonely December evening at a Macy's Department Store.  I think I will always remember that evening.  It must have been 2006, when Steve was sitting reserve in another base.  This meant for long times away from one another, and very short time with one another.  I missed him like crazy, and with the holiday season in full force that just added extra salt into the wounds.

I was shopping by myself, not sure for what exactly, and as I was near the handbags this song came over the speakers.  I almost broke down into tears right then and there. 

You see, when I was a PCV there were a handful of songs that mark that period in my life.  These songs always speak so loudly and clearly to me, and take me back to that year. That was a pivotal year in my life for a number of reasons, namely this is when Steve and I truly started to talk about marriage and beginning our life together.  It was during our time apart that I realized that he was the one for me.  And I will always feel the connection with this song and that time in my life.  I will always associate this song with Steve 

Right there, in the middle of the aisle, the feeling of being so utterly alone consumed me like I have never felt before.  In a department store, where there was hustle and bustle everywhere, I felt so desperately alone.  Steve was gone.  He was gone a lot - fuck commuting and reserve.  Christmas is for being close with those near and dear, not to be far away.


So maybe I don't get those desperately alone moments anymore where I just want to crawl into a ball and cry.  I have grown somewhat numb to his absence, so things aren't quite so dramatic anymore.  But I still do have some alone moments where you can surely feel that void in your heart.  It happened just the other day, as a matter of fact.  Steve has had some weird schedules with Christmas and New Years.  He isn't on his "normal" schedule, which causes us to constantly repeat "what day is it again?"  And, he only has had 2 days home in between pairings. And, if I hear anyone say "oh, it must be *so* hard to *only* have two days off" I will reach through this screen and punch you in the face.  Those two days just aren't enough! They aren't enough for him, me, or the kids.

His last two days home were filled with fun and relaxation.  Ok, so maybe there was some frustration when we were late getting to a party.  While I was running around the house getting the kids ready, and me ready, and the food prepared, Steve was more interested in shoveling the 2 inches of snow off the driveway.  I am always stunned that Mr. Always Late gets his planes out on time!  Not to mention, due to this wonky schedule my love tank was rather low, and his presence was surely helping with that.  And then it was time for him to leave again...just when things were gettin' good...

On the day he flew out, we were at least able to spend the morning together.  At one point, the kids and Steve had a little impromptu musical ensemble going on, which was SO cute to watch!  Ben was singing, CC was on the drum, and Steve was on the tambourine.  Perhaps there were some maracas in there too?  They also played dollhouse.  I like when Steve spends this direct and focused time with the kids before he leaves.

When it came time, the kids and I helped Steve get ready for work.  Ok, so maybe I was the one to help by ironing his shirt and pack a lunch, while the kids jumped around on our bed and then pushed one another around in the laundry basket. 

Then it was time for the uniform.  Once Steve puts on his uniform you know "go time" is coming.  I started to get sad. 

Now let me set reality straight...I don't always get sad.  Sometimes, I am glad that he is setting off to the friendly skies.  This is mostly when I need my space.  But this last time, I didn't want him to go.  I didn't get enough of him when he was home...and he was taken away from me again.  It is toughest to have your pilot leave when you are on a high.  Although, the flip side to this is that you spend the next 4-day thinking about him, and counting down the minutes until you can lay your hands on him...anticipation!

He came downstairs, looking handsome in his newly dusted off black sweater, and put his bags in his car.  He came back in to say goodbye and gave us all hugs and kisses.  I usually make sure to breathe in deeply when I am nuzzled into his neck with the hug...ahhh.  4 days is the next time you will feel that warmth and smell that smell.  And then he is off...

The kids waved from the front door, and we watched his car drive up the hill and out of sight.

I closed the door, and I instantly felt the void. Instantly.  The vibe in our house was transformed.  Steve was gone. Daddy was gone.  I missed him the second his car went out of sight. 


Now, the kids fill the home with life and love and laughter each and every day.  So, in one sense I am never alone.  And because of this I don't feel desperately alone as I once have. But, I still get that lonely feeling every now and again.  And, it sucks.  Plain and simple. 

When you get that lonely feeling, you question the life you have.  When the house is quiet and you are folding laundry, you have a lot of thoughts that run through your head.  You wonder what you got yourself into with having a husband that travels.  You think "gosh, when I was a little girl I never thought I would have a husband that is gone so much."  You think about how much nicer it would be if your husband was home...right then and there.  Then, the house wouldn't be so transformed...so empty when he is gone....

But, it is what it is.  Steve chose this occupation and lifestyle.  I married into this lifestyle.  I may not have totally known what I was getting into, case in point this lonely pilot wife stuff, but I manage.  We deal.  This is our life.  And...absence does make the heart grow fonder, I have no doubt about that.  I like to think that each and every time he is away and lonely is felt, it just strengthens our bond.  Not to mention, the sex is better that night he gets back.  A total perk! 

So there you have it, a pilot wife kind of lonely...


  1. I loved the article! It is so hard explaining this feeling to my friends, and even harder my family but its what I call life now, and though its hard, I wouldnt change it for the world.

  2. It is definitely a lonely life sometimes. My husband is in the cargo world-2 weeks on/2 weeks off and it sucks. Especially since we have a 8 month old.

    I relate to the instant vibe change too, when he leaves. The house just seems...sadder. And we live in the sticks, to boot. Instant isolation. Sigh.

    The life of a pilot wife is a complicated one.

    1. The house does seem sadder. But, I promise that when your baby gets older and becomes more active the dynamic is more alive.

      I don't think I could ever live in the sticks. My imagination is too active and I would be too afraid.

      Yes, we do have complicated lives!

    2. My husband is in cargo too. Its really tough, life being with him is really TOUGH!

      I cant have him by my side when I need him most. I find myself amazingly independent, I can be a mother, a father, a domestic helper, a driver, and a teacher etc.

      Seriously it may be easier without him!

  3. Well put Joanna. Sometimes I think that initial alone feeling is worse than how you feel on day 2 and 3. It is definitely worse than how you feel on day 4 when you know that you will be going to sleep with a warm body next to you :)

    All the hustle and bustle right before they go - him getting packed and ready while I pack sandwiches and snacks for his trip and try to soak up those last moments creates all this energy which I think makes the silence afterwards more shocking. Definitely a lifestyle, with ups and downs.

    I notice that I feel lonely more if I am home when he leaves versus if he leaves when I am at work and I come home to an empty house. If he leaves me something, like a sweet note or a shirt to sleep in, I don't feel that lonely.

    You have been at this a lot longer than I have - it is reassuring to know that these feelings are normal!

    Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!

    1. yes, these feels are totally normal. The up side on having the lonely feeling is that you know that you still love the man you married :)

  4. New to posting on your blog but I have been lingering for a few weeks reading your posts. I feel like I could be writing this blog almost word for word! It is so wonderful to hear how other pilot wives deal with all of the craziness that comes with this job. My pilot is considering a move to the majors after 12 years at a regional because his regional is starting to fall apart. The schedule is great right now but I am dreading going back to the step one and then commuting (OMGoodness UGGGHHH)

    Even 12.5 years into our marriage, I miss him like crazy every time he leaves. I sometimes wonder what I was thinking when I assured him (when we were 20) that I was cut out for this. The truth is though that he is my other half and I wouldn't trade him for any other. Funny how the uniform works. Everyone is bummed by it upon departure for a 4 day, and yet we (the kids and I) love to see him in it upon his return. It means so much more that anyone from the outside would ever know :-)

    1. Thanks for finding me and posting! You know, one of my biggest compliments is when a fellow pilow wife tells me they could have written the words word for word. I think it makes us all feel normal in this not normal lifestyle.

      I can't comment on the commuting thing, because I haven't really don't it. But, I would say to go mainline. It isn't easy, but Steve is SO much happier.

  5. Careful, the title almost sounds like an ad on DollyMadison.com, lol!!

    Man, more tear-jerking touches, Joanna! As I was reading I was feeling sad 4 u, but at the same time feeling grateful that you had these hear-wrenching moments b/c it helped you to fall so much more in love with your hubby!!

    I think pilot's spouses truly get that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" experience, perhaps wayyy more than they need...but it's a very necessary part of the cement that holds your marriage together!


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