New Routes

By CJ Johnson

It’s right in the middle of town. There is no way I can avoid it, if I want to get downtown. My Mom was always one for taking the long way, never any shortcuts. I believe that is exactly why I must still drive by it. 

When you take your mother to the hospital in the middle of the city you never think that she may not walk out. Particularly, when going to the hospital for various infractions on her health had became a normality. When going to the hospital had become set a rhythm in your life and hers. 

I can recall vividly once when I was driving my mother to a doctor’s visit and I wanted to take the interstate to buy us some time. She insisted on staying on the service road. She never understood why I was always in a rush and wanting to “go another way” as she always said so quietly. 

When you pull into the hospital for that last time, you’re left with a profound desire to never take a shortcut or new route again. All to honor what you have been taught, sub-consciously, along the way. 

That desire may be a little foggy at first, but you are now paying very close attention. It rolls out there in front of you, very ceremoniously, right before the transition. 

No one thinks about where they will be when their young Mother dies. 

How you will have to call a funeral home, reach out to distant friends, and confer with nurses, all while your Mother grows colder and more blue, just two away feet from you. They don’t just rush her off to some hospital morgue, you know. 

She stays close. 

Her last heartbeat was moments ago. Her last flutter of an eyelid was two hours before.  

You stay in that space. You fall further in. You forget about looking for a way out. 

Taking a new route or shortcut to get to downtown, just wouldn’t be fair. 

Even many moons after she has said goodbye. 

You need to drive by that hospital. It’s a way to stay close to your Mother. 

To recall her lessons and keep them imprinted on your mind. 

Of course it doesn’t feel good. But for some reason, it helps. 

Death presents more intimacy than you ever imagined. 

The impact runs deep. 
 
You can’t escape it. 

It makes you think about the routes of life. Where life is taking you and how you will get there and how you will feel once you get there and that there are always new routes you can take. 

But in the spirit of bravery, you eventually concede. You take the long route and get to where you need to be, holding in all of your heavy questions along the way. 

And like everything else in life, you get there, intact, still breathing and thinking. 

Eternally grateful for the chance to take the long way, inspired by your losses while focusing on all the living you have yet to live. 

PHOTO BY CJ JOHNSON

PHOTO BY CJ JOHNSON

CJ Johnson is a freelance digital content producer and ghostwriter  who is currently transitioning into being a certified holistic health coach. CJ seeks opportunities that allow for the presentation of news and stories to the world that are rooted in journalism. Particularly, aiming and catering articles to those vested in the wellness community as well as to people of the African diaspora that are concerned about their health their culture. CJ lives in the heart of Dallas, TX in a bohemian community where eclectic art and cuisine abound. She is a published poet, author of Woman Steps In Poetry and Prose. Long-distance running has been her joy for over 20 years and yoga is her new found love since 2011.