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Divorce is not Easy
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 had the divorce experience of when you leave 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. 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 I 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--2 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 7 years for a robbery and I 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 suicde 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. 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 cattle lots of Texas and Oklahoma, and the rolling hills of Kansas. We were driving at 120 mph most 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 a while.
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 and he said "Thanks" and off he strode in his blood filling boots to who knows what future. Humbled I drove on to my mothers 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, but 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 together with on committees and planning meetings with for 4 or 5 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 we Jews, divorce and loss of a family, other than a get ceremony, ( required Jewish divorce) is not marked by any service--indeed one of the few life events that is not marked.
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 or even unspoken words but your presence in someones life who is going through a painful struggle means alot. 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 everyday 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 either as their job, their hobby, or with their friends. Today I celebrate the angels I have met and hope that there are indeed angels in the after life. G-d 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 www.divorcesupport.com
from theMay, 1998 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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