Flying Solo

Sometimes, I wish a manual existed with instructions on how to fly solo after 43 years of togetherness. But then, I realize this solo journey is unique to each who takes flight, thus, each manual different.

This week is a solo flight for me—a retreat alone. I need this time to think, reflect, and process the events of January 3, and beyond.

Following are reflections on flying solo:

Firsts and Lasts

Solo flight is all about firsts and lasts.

The last time I looked at this view, Jim was by my side. The last time I gazed on these waters, the family was together. The last time I pondered the rolling waves of the sea I had no thought of a sudden exit on the horizon.

This first time seeing the sea solo, the view is the same, but the emotions, thoughts, and perceptions are different. I see the incoming tide and experience waves of emotion. My thoughts drift to times of joy and togetherness. Perception tells me the vast horizon is limitless, just as my days stretch before me, one upon the other, with new mercies and fresh encounters.

Firsts and lasts are to be treasured.

Test Flight

In November of 2020, Jim had a widow-maker heart attack and survived. COVID was rampant, and for many months, we stayed at home. When I felt comfortable going out again, Jim was still cautious. Other health issues factored in, so for many months, I had test flights, flying solo.

Sometimes, I’d let myself think what if this were real and permanent? Now, solo flight is not a test flight; it is real and permanent.

Did those test flights help ease the transition occurring now? Perhaps, but I always knew, in the back of my mind, that when I got home Jim would be there. Now, I know he won’t. Yet, despite that knowledge, that reality, I am at peace.

Fly When You Want To

Several weeks ago, a friend gave me tickets to a civic group pancake breakfast. Initially, I thought I could do that, but as the date drew closer, I knew I couldn’t. I offered the tickets to several others but had no takers. The day of the breakfast, I sat in the gym parking lot, trying to convince myself I could go. Ultimately, I went home. Flying alone that day just didn’t feel doable.

When solo flight is too hard, it’s okay to throw away your ticket. Hibernation days are acceptable and necessary. Grief has its own agenda, and fighting it is rarely wise.

The Urge to Tell

One of the little quirks about flying solo is the urge to tell complete strangers that you’re on your maiden voyage. I know, it seems stupid. Why would strangers care? It’s not about getting sympathy.  Telling you’re flying solo is more about wanting to hear “good for you” or simply wanting someone to share in your accomplishment.

Close friends understand the courage of solo flight and cheer you on.

Realizing You Have a Copilot

Those learning to fly a plane take a solo flight only after hours of training with an instructor. When the day to fly solo comes, students have been through the motions enough that they almost become second nature. When flying solo, they hear the instructor’s voice, and remember his instructions as if he were with them.

As I look at the sunrise, and watch seagulls take flight, I realize although I’m flying solo, God is my copilot. I hear his voice—encouraging, instructing, supporting—and feel his presence. I’m not really alone. God, my ever-present copilot, steers my forward motion in the direction He knows is best.

“This is My command: be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 VOICE).


Candy Arrington is an award-winning writer, blogger, and speaker. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotions published by numerous outlets including:,,,,, Focus on the Family,,, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

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  1. There is so much that happens and changes in your new chapter of life. I am sure your experiences and times of loneliness are lines of hope 😉and encouragement to many others who are walking the road with you. Also, it is very comforting for me to be remember what a personal and caring God we have. Thank you for your faithfulness in sharing your heart every week.❤️❤️❤️

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