Get Found, Kid

Years ago, I read an article by Robert Fulghum in The Reader’s Digest that I have never forgotten. Now I know why.

He spoke of a neighborhood hide-and-seek game. As children scattered, he noted there was always that one kid who hid so well, nobody could find him. After a while they would give up on him and leave him to rot wherever he was.

Sooner or later he would show up, all mad because they didn’t keep looking for him. In turn, the “seekers”would get mad back because he wasn’t playing the game the way it was supposed to be played. There’s hiding and there’s finding. But sure enough the next time around, he would hide too well again.

As Fulghum reflected upon his childhood merriment, he spotted a kid hiding under a pile of leaves. He walked over and shouted, “GET FOUND, KID,” scaring the life out of him and probably sending him home for shock treatment.

My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 25 years ago. She was that person: a successful business owner whose domestic prowess was renowned throughout the city. She was the life of the party, the one even my friends came to visit.

The disease crept in slowly like a predator stalking its prey. We could never talk about it. We lived for years with a monster hiding under the covers. Maybe if it was just not discussed, it would go away.

It never did.

A grown-up game of hide-and-seek. Wounded and hiding. Prideful and worried about being pitied. Desperately wanting to be found. But all play and suffering were done alone.

There were times she just wanted to die. And I wanted her to die. Not because I could bear the thought of losing her but because when you see someone you love suffer so much you want the ultimate healing – even if that means death.

Today, she is the shell of the woman she once was. Time is slowing eroding her battle. She has good and bad days but I feel grateful she held out. That my husband and children have come to know even a small piece of my incredible mother.

I just wish she would let us in.

Forget hide-and-seek. Fulghum asserted that we should be sardine players. If you are it, you are the one who hides and everyone comes looking for you. When you are found, everyone piles in. Before long, someone usually giggles and your cover is blown – together.

Life as a game of sardines.

Ready or not, here I come….

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