Angels and Divorce

by Dean Hughson

Having just seen the movie “City of Angels,” I found it fascinating to think
that there could be angels that are around us all of the time but not seen.
It has never fit in my lifestyle to think of angels but sometimes I have
felt protected.

On July 1, 1991 I experienced leaving home for the
final time. Looking into the eyes of my 3 little kids and realizing when I
next saw them I would be a “visitor” in their life and a
part-time parent.

It hurt. I vaguely remember through the tears mumbling my love for them and
trying not to blubber anymore than I was already. I went out and got into my 1991
Dodge Stealth Twin Turbo sportscar. For those of you who don’t know this
car, it was at its time one of the fastest US made cars and could go 163
mph. It had all wheel drive, 5 speed transmission, and 17 inch wheels to
keep it on the ground. Off I drove with the stereo playing full blast to
deaden the pain in my heart. I was going to drive from Phoenix, Arizona to
Kansas City, Missouri, where I had family and was doing a job transfer.
Leaving was not my idea exactly: my boss thought that my ex was killing me
and it would take my mind off of the all consuming pain if I was doing
another project. In my car I had a computer, stereo, some clothes, a fax
machine, and my thoughts.

I drove to Flagstaff, Arizona–two hours north of Phoenix. On the side of the
road was a man with a sign that said KC. I stopped and he said, “Thanks
for stopping. I have been waiting all morning and no one would stop.” As
we took off he said to me, “Well, I have just got out of prison. I have
been in there for seven years for a robbery and am going back to KC. I don’t
know if my family will see me or help me but it is where I am from.

“Incidentally, could you stop for a minute? I tore the bottom of my heel
off in a motorcycle accident and my boot fills up with blood when I stand
for a long time.” I pulled over. He emptied his boot. Off we went again
and I started telling him about my tale of woe. Intermixed in this story is
my cell phone which would go off and I would be talking to an attorney,
rabbi, or friend telling my tale of woe. I would be less than honest if I
didn’t tell you that in the back of my mind earlier in the day I had
thought about ending my life. I don’t think that I was serious but anytime
you think about suicide it is serious. A thought kept going through my
mind….at 150 mph if you mistakenly flick the steering wheel one quarter
of an inch too far you will go into a roll or a telephone pole.

I was
having all kinds of thoughts about what would happen–then my soon to be ex
would be sorry but the thought of my kids having to deal with my death was
too much and also the thought that my ex would say, “See, he was crazy” to
them the rest of their life was too much. There are 35,000 suicides a year
in the US and many are related to divorce or breakups of relationships.

After awhile with my new partner in the drive with me my thoughts started
clearing up. Here I was driving a $30,000 sports car,with plenty of cash
in my pocket and my co-pilot in the car didn’t have a dime or much hope in
his life. We talked non-stop for the 24 hours it took to drive across the
deserts of New Mexico, the cattlelots of Texas and Oklahoma, and the
rolling hills of Kansas. We were driving at 120 mph much of the time in a
road race with another car. I was afraid to sleep because I thought my new
partner might not be a good driver or might kill me–after all he was a
prisoner for awhile.

When we got to KC he told me he wanted to be let out at the intersection of
I-70 and I-69 so he could hitchhike the remainder of the way. As he got
out he said to me, “I hope your life gets better.” Speechless and feeling
ashamed for my self-pity I reached in my pocket and gave him all of the
money I had in cash. He said, “Thanks,” and off he strode in his blood
filling boots to who knows what future. Humbled I drove on to my mother’s
house and began my divorced life.

He potentially saved my life and he was one of the first people to wish me
a better life in my time of need. I had been a member of a 700 family
synagogue and the only person, other than the Rabbi, who reached out to me
was the janitor–the rest of the people didn’t know what to say, I suppose.
The janitor did–in halting English he said “Dean, please for your
family don’t divorce.” I think he thought that the divorce was my idea but
his concern was touching. The people I had sat with on committees and planning
meetings for four or five years said nothing. I don’t blame them–when I
was one of them I didn’t know what to say to divorced people either.

For you see, I had met a couple of angels and hadn’t realized it at the
time. We all have the opportunity to be an angel to others in time of
need. A few words can mean a lot to someone who is going through a
painful struggle. You might save a
life and never know it. If the “City of Angels” movie is an example of
invisible angels I have met a lot of human type angels since my divorce.
People who put their lives and feelings on the block to help
others in divorce. Helping others in a divorce is a thankless job but many
men and women do it everyday. Today I celebrate the angels I have met and hope that there
are indeed angels in the afterlife. God knows we all need an angel here
and there in our lives.

Dean Hughson, Las Vegas Nevada, writes the ASK THE DIVORCED GUY column at