Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 25 published and forthcoming books, including the bestselling When I found You, Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go, and Take Me With You.


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Nowhere to be seen

Catherine Ryan Hyde

If you haven't read the recent critical post about me, the following will make no sense to you.  If you have, please know that any continued post I write about it, such as this one, is written not to add a shred of pain to the issue, for anyone involved.  But this one sentence has kept me awake for large sections of three nights now, and needs to come up and out.

"Catherine Ryan Hyde was nowhere to be seen."

Leslie reports coming home and having a terrible encounter with our father.  And the last line of the report is, "Catherine Ryan Hyde was nowhere to be seen." 

Words are so powerful.  They paint such evocative pictures.

What does that sentence evoke to you?  That's not a rhetorical question.  I'm really hoping a few people will tell me.  Because I don't want to fall into that trap of acting like I know what the other party intended.  I just know it feels like a subtle indictment.  Where was I? it asks.  Saying I couldn't be seen (rather than saying I wasn't there), almost makes it sound as though I was hiding.  But that's only my reaction to it.  Others might interpret it differently.

Anyway, the point of this post is to answer the indictment.

I had already moved away from home.

I had "accelerated" through high school.  I don't know if anyone will know what that means, because I don't even know if you're allowed to do it anymore.  Basically it means I completed four years of high school in three years.  I graduated less than two months after my 17th birthday.  And I moved away.

I was somewhere to be seen.  I was just not in Buffalo.  I was living in the Bronx, sharing with a roommate, doing daily business reports for Avis Rent-a-Car in Manhattan.  They thought I was eighteen.  Why they didn't check, I don't know. 

Many months later, when I had moved to L.A. and was sharing an apartment with my sister Christie, she told me that Leslie had come back while I was away.  And that was the first I had heard of it.

Now hopefully you see why I've been so haunted by that sentence.  Catherine Ryan Hyde was nowhere to be seen.  I, too, left.  

Here's an exercise for anyone who cares to try it.  Some won't.  Some will never change their mind, and, knowing this, I won't try.  But others I know are listening.  Try remembering the worst misunderstanding you ever had within your family of origin.  The time you felt most misunderstood by a family member.  Now picture it playing out publicly, their version of you being told to countless strangers, who know nothing of you at all. How quick do you hope people will to be to judge?