new age spirituality

This article is provided by kind permission of Alexa Pierce. This article MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED without the permission of the author.

Touched By My Angel

Driving To My New Life

by Alexa Pierce

It’s been a little more than twenty-nine years since we first co-mingled our stuff. And today -- a marriage, two children, several pets, a handful of careers, and a separation later -- I’m moving out and on. Along with the dog and cat, the last few important keeper items, i.e., pictures, family treasures, are jam-packed into my automobile. I’m about to drive from Wayne, Pennsylvania, to Providence, Rhode Island.

It’s getting dark. The electric company flipped the off-switch at noon rather than midnight. I’m done! This move has done me in. The dog squeezed between the front seats, Buster in his cat container in the rear, my neighbor fastens a plastic box to the roof of my car. It’s an east coast Indian Summer September evening.

I’ve heard outer experience is a reflection of inner reality. You bet it is! Wherever you go, there you are. Nothing about this move has been easy or smooth. There’s been a turbulence about keeping and discarding; about letting go and holding on. Right now exhaustion and sadness are pulling at my heartstrings. It’s time to leave this home with its reminders of my intact family behind. It’s time for a course correction. New hopes and dreams, here I come.

Before driving off, I consider a hotel room for the night. I hear the committee in my head debate – drive now or tomorrow, where to stay, what about the stuff in the car? It’s a long seven hour drive. What will I do with the dog? The cat? I fire the committee.

My encouragement to myself is the usual I can do it affirmation.

I’ve always done it.

So I drive. I’m driving towards a new life, I tell myself. I half-heartedly laugh as I pass the Carteret Rahway exit on the New Jersey Turnpike. It used to be my about-to-be ex-husband’s moniker. Carteret Rahway III, he’d introduce himself at college parties. And every Jersey-savvy person knows it’s actually the exit to the State prison.

The planes are landing at Newark International Airport. I’m reminded that in two weeks I’ll be a graduate student. I’ll be flying across the country to attend the first monthly weekend classes at a West Coast university. I hum An-ti-ci-pa-tion. Whatever happened to Carly Simon, I wonder, as God’s grace is ever so evident through the open sunroof and the starlit sky. Providence has a great airport!

I’m by-passing Manhattan, crossing the George Washington Bridge, and in my head I hear Janis singing: “… freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” I weigh the lyric’s possibilities. What’s left for me to lose, I wonder? 27 years ago, I’d arrived in New York City to begin the relationship now coming to an end. Stuff-wise, I’d had a clean slate by design -- a suitcase and eager anticipation. Oh, it was so simple.

Four hours to go.

I drive some more. A Motel 6 I know along the way is a definite possibility. They take dogs … I’m not certain about cats. They keep the light on for you. (Thanks, Tom Bodett.) For a few minutes I forget the throbbing pain in my shoulder and legs. Momentarily, I feel quite blessed. I’m going towards something rather than away, I tell myself. It’s freeing to think of it that way. Endings are hard!

I keep driving. I must stay present and awake. Talk radio helps even if I’m not the least bit interested in home mortgages. I’m asking God for strength. I’m praying to stay focused on the road. I scream! I sing. I cry. I eat. I talk to myself. I respond to the talk show host. I converse with the dog. The cat replies with a huge meow. The three of us are headed north.

I gratefully acknowledge all breathing and not-breathing gifts in my life as I remind myself that Janis is singing about so much more than simply material losses. I direct my thoughts away from my losses and toward concentration on the highway. The radio talk show has turned to static. I change the station. The pets are quiet. Not many cars on the road. It’s a beautiful night. Divorce sucks.

Oh my! The truck is moving into my lane. Now I’m headed down-hill towards the bushes. It’s me and the pets in my all-wheel drive vehicle maneuvering the foliage, the big trees, the guardrail. Tree limbs are falling through the open sunroof. I hear the bungy cord snapping off the roof carrier. The dog whimpers. He’s fallen forward to the floor.

Tree branch-covered we come to a halt. I can see the dog. I hear the cat. Where’s my cell phone? There’s definite pandemonium in my head.

It’s 2AM at exit 89 on Route 95 in Connecticut. There’s an inner call to crisis management. The dog jumps in my lap. As I hold him, his heart is beating loudly, close to mine. He whimpers a little more. Or is it me who whimpers? Buster’s meow is piercing in the still of the night air. I take a breath. I make the decision that it’s important to keep breathing. Yuck, one of the trees left me berries on my lap.

It could be hours before someone finds us, is my next thought.

Can’t find the phone. Let me open the door to search the floor. The door won’t budge. I open the driver-side window. It’s dark. Too many trees and bushes block my vision. What could possibly be in the way of opening this door?

I lean out the window and see the guardrail. I breathe deeply. I look up and nod to God and say thank you. Quickly, I’m aware that my mind’s rolodex is empty when it comes to middle of the night/early morning stuck-in-the-bushes-on-Rte-95 events. As I continue to breathe out fear, I’m breathing in faith. It works. I’m ready to call 9-1-1.

Through the open window I hear a “You ok?” I’m calmer now … still breathing. Standing on the other side of the guardrail is a dark-haired woman. Actually, she has long, dark hair. She’s smoking. My guess is she’s in her late twenties … not very tall. She’s definitely too young to be coming to a stranger’s automobile on Route 95 at 2AM.

With insides trembling, I tell her no one’s hurt. And quickly, as if having a knowing that we all are ok, she offers to check out my vehicle’s condition. She jumps over the guardrail and rips off tree limbs as she inspects my automobile, all the while reporting what she sees. The moon and the stars are slightly visible again.

This young woman couldn’t have possibly seen us from the road.

Strangely calm, I remain seated in the car. She returns to my window. I ask her why she’s here. “Are you an EMT?” I want to know. She tells me she’s not an EMT … just saw me on the side of the road while driving by. I quickly realize there’s NO WAY she could see my car from the highway. No way! First, because the car is covered in tree limbs, and second, our landing was a steep drop from the highway. As I profusely thank her for taking the risk to come to my aid, she tells me she knows how frightening car accidents can be. She’d been in one a while back. Her calm demeanor softens my fright. My inner tremblings subside to periodic tremor blips. I mention my need to call 9-1-1. She tells me she’s already called for assistance.

Later, the highway department is called to cut my car out of the bushes, and I hear several men discuss that normally they only find fatalities at this location. Once more I’m called to gratitude. (To say the least.) As I’m being pulled out of the trench, I want to thank this courageous woman for coming to my aid. I inquire about her. The police officer asks: “what short, dark long-haired woman?” He substantiates a female called for assistance.

Much later, waiting for my ride, I realize I’ve met my angel.