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The Hartford Courant
She Collected Angels And Then Found One Of Her Own
By M.A.C. LYNCH, SPECIAL TO THE COURANT
May 9, 2004
Yamileth Espinoza felt someone tap her shoulder while she was taking a photo of a band. She brushed the hand away without turning around. When she was leaving,
Yamileth heard a man talking about her: "Oh, she speaks English!"
"What else would I speak?" Yamileth said.
"Well, you are in Puerto Rico," said Angel Delgado, 39, a native of Hartford who was visiting his father.
Yamileth, 24, was visiting the island for the first time. Her friend Denise Quinones whispered to her, "Be nice, be nice. He's cute. Watch, he'll be your husband." Angel said he had tapped Yamileth's shoulder to offer to take a photo of her with the band. Yamileth told Angel he smelled like onions from the sandwich he was eating and they parted.
Later that evening, Angel and his step-brothers met Yamileth and Denise at another nightclub. Angel and Yamileth danced once and talked briefly. At 8 the next morning, Angel called Denise's home to plan the day together. No luck, but they did meet at nightclubs for the next four evenings. The night before Yamileth flew home to California, she said to Angel, "For whatever reason, God has introduced us; it was very nice meeting you."
"I shook his hand, and he gave me a kiss on the cheek," she said.
"I didn't expect to hear from Angel. I really didn't," said Yamileth. Two weeks later he e-mailed her and asked about the pictures she had taken in Puerto Rico.
They communicated a few times a week, and in July, Angel, a computer technician with CIGNA, was sent to Los Angeles on business. Yamileth lived outside San Francisco, more than seven hours north, and was coordinating a conference the same week as his convention. She had a wedding to attend before her conference, and Angel volunteered to come a day early to be her escort. She picked him up at the airport and bolted to the wedding, where her coworkers flipped over Angel.
"So, you're the special man!"
"That's why you won't date anyone."
"Oh, why did you hide him?"
"How long have you been together?"
"He's just a friend," Yamileth protested.
"When I dropped him off at the airport the next day, I cried. `I know I'll never see you again,'" she said.
"I'll be back," Angel said, "but in the back of my mind, I was thinking we probably never would see each other again." He called her from Los Angeles, and she told him it would be better if he didn't call her anymore.
A week later, Yamileth told a friend, "I know he is going to be my husband. I don't know what it is, but I just know." When Angel returned to Hartford, he called Yamileth, who again told him not to call her anymore. Angel persisted and asked for her to fly to Connecticut that week. Yamileth worked in corporate travel and arranged a flight.
They took turns visiting each other until late August. Standing atop the Empire State Building, Yamileth said, "We can't go on like this." Angel begged her to move east. Yamileth agreed, flew home and broke up with Angel 10 days later. "My father was not hip with me moving out here. It was a lot of emotional pain." In November, a week after her mother's birthday, Yamileth migrated to Hartford.
"I was going through the hardest year of my life, being away from my family," said Yamileth. "I would just take it day by day. I would just ask God for strength. ... I felt like the inside of me was just dead." In December 2001, when she and Angel flew to California for Christmas, Yamileth told him she was not coming back.
Driving on the highway toward her parents' home, Angel reiterated how much he loved Yamileth and would work things out. "He asked me to grab his jacket from the back. As soon as the jacket hits my hand, I feel a knock on my hand," Yamileth said.
"Reach your hand in my pocket," Angel said.
"For what," Yamileth said.
"Open it," Angel said.
"I can't," she said. "He pulled off the exit into a park I played at as a young child. Our song, `Thank You for Giving Me the Best Day of My Life,' came on the radio."
"I turned to her and asked her if she would marry me," Angel said. Angel had secretly asked Yamileth's parents' blessing on their engagement and arranged for Yamileth's aunt to make the engagement ring when the couple had visited in October. Yamileth was amazed and elated.
They came back to Hartford to live with Angel's children from a previous marriage and to save for a house, which they purchased in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor on Yamileth's mother's birthday. The couple is now en route to their wedding in Lake Tahoe this coming Saturday.
"He's my best friend. His strength is what kept us together. He's never failed me," says Yamileth. "He's so caring. He is so giving. He's a great father. He's just genuine. I've never seen him be fake."
The night Angel met Yamileth in Puerto Rico, he was struck by her intelligence. "She had a lot of goals for herself," he said. "Once I saw how she was with my children, I knew she's the one I want to be with. She's kind, understanding; she's lovable. She is a really down-to-earth person. She's a family-oriented person."
The couple love to ski, travel and salsa together. And Yamileth continues a hobby she started as a girl. "All my life I collected angels," said Yamileth, "but I've never dated a real Angel. It can't get any better than this."