Share This Post


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….

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

Share This Post

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.


  1. Wow, I was not prepared for the emotions this post fostered. I recently lost my mom after a long battle with cancer and I could relate on so many levels.

    Thank you….

  2. Life is such a mixed bag of joy and sorrow. Nicely worded post, Amber.

  3. Oh, Amber.

  4. I understand how hard it can be to put your heart down on paper or the screen.

    Thank you for sharing something so close to you.

  5. Twenty five years is a long time to watch someone suffer, but I know it has been wonderful for you to share her with your family. She has definitely cherished the time too. It takes a lot of stregth from all of you.

    We lost my dad 6 months ago to brain cancer & we were ready for the suffering to stop. Best wishes to you all.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story and for making feel as if I’ve found a new friend…ready or not.

  7. My mother died four years ago after a forty year struggle with congestive heart failure. There were many times when I was growing up that we didn’t know if she would pull through or not. She was the strongest person I have ever met, I am so thankful to have known her and been raised in her presence, my only regret is that she did not live long enough for my youngest child to meet her. I still mourn her life of suffering along with her death (if that makes sense) but I would do it all over again just to have her in my life. My heart goes out to you.

  8. I was not prepared for this post. My heart goes out to you – I can’t imagine watching someone suffer for that long.

  9. What a beautifully-written post. I’m sad for you and your mom and your family, 25 years is such a long time. I’m so glad your mom has been able to know your children and husband.

  10. It is truly hard to watch someone you love suffer. My heart goes out to you.

  11. what a beautiful post. i can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to watch her health slowly decline. i am so sorry that your family has had to go through this.

  12. I think there must be something with that generation because all to often when someone was ill, it was never talked about. I could never figure that out.

    I do know how painful it is to watch someone you love slowly decline. It happened to my mother. It was hard and I’m sorry that you are going through it. Thank you for such a thoughful post.

  13. My heart goes out to you. I know so many people who have MS. One is a very close friend. He is young yet and hasn’t experienced much suffering just yet but we all know that his time of being mostly normal is short. I have been involved in MS fundraisers for the last 5 years because of my friend. I am so glad that he doesn’t expend so much energy hiding it.

    My dad on the other hand is much like your mom. While his disease is not life threatening, he has spent most of my life even hiding it from my brother and I. He is slowly going blind… he knew it when I was in high school and I didn’t know until about 8 or 9 years ago.

    He didn’t want anyone to know because he was proud and did not want everyone’s pity. It wreaked havoc on my mom to deal with it alone. She could not tell anyone or get support from family.

    The hide and seek game that people play cause more harm than anything. I hope that if I am ever faced with a similar situation, I can deal with it in a more positive way.

  14. My mother did not share her suffering because she didn’t want us to worry……

  15. oh Amber, i don’t have the words…
    be well dear, you and your mom.

  16. Oh that must be hard! Now I know where you get all your energy and fun!!! 🙂

  17. Whoops, don’t know why it didn’t post my blog link?

  18. I have watched my SIL struggle with MS for the last 20 years. It is such a horrible disease.

    Thank you for a wonderful post.

  19. what a touching post. thank you for sharing your story. you have obviously touched many with it and your openness.

    i think one of the hardest things would be to watch a parent, spouse, or child in pain and/or wasting away. the feeling of helplessness would be overwhelming. my heart aches for you and anyone in this kind of situation.

  20. God bless families. You are so lucky to have each other. Beautiful post.

  21. Oh, Amber. I am so sorry. I have no words to say other than that. Hang in there, friend.

  22. You bring up such a good point, Amber. A lot of very highly independent, strong people in my life think “talking” is overrated. Thanks for reminding me to be a sardine player in life.

    Beautiful post.

  23. Sorry, that was me!

  24. Beautiful post…

  25. Wow what a post. I can so relate.

  26. Beautiful post. You are an amazing writer. Thinking of you.

  27. Sometimes, being “strong for others” causes such a loss for everyone. It’s so sad.
    Thanks for the poignant post. I’m reminded to live an open life (no hiding allowed!)

  28. what a powerful post amber. i loved the idea of sardines. piling in and being together. so many times we as humans are so darn strong when what we really need is to just be together and have that support. at least that is what i thought of when i read your post. ((hugs))

  29. This is a beautiful post. I have known people with MS and have a friend whose mom had MS. It is a horrible disease. It is wonderful that your children have had a chance to know her.

  30. oh amber sweetie,
    i sure wish i could make this better and easier for you and your momma. hugs sister, kathleen 🙂

  31. Sardines does sound like a much better way to go about things…hugs

  32. Oh, Amber, this post hurt my heart for you. Beautiful and very thought provoking.

  33. Oh, that’s heartbreaking. I’ve never heard of sardines before, but I hope you will be able to play.

  34. What a poignant post Amber. Thank you for sharing your story. I am a firm believer in sharing your stories in life as you just never know who’s life it could change. By sharing, it may open doors for another person.

    My sister was diagnosed with MS in November of last year. Thankfully, she hasn’t experienced new symptoms and the ones that she does have, are somewhat dormant.

  35. OH Amber…my heart too hurts for you. I don’t understand why people can’t be more open. I am so it is hard to understand why people can’t just share, hurting or not.

    Anyway, your post is beautiful. I am glad like you said that your mother has had a chance to get to know your children and vice versa.

    Thanks for sharing this in such a touching way. My heart goes out to you friend!


Leave a Reply