Glen died. It is true. Glen was three-and-a-half, and he died. I know that sounds strange, but hear me out. He had spinal meningitis, the kind that killed you in those days. The lucky few who survived were permanently, mentally disabled, or to be politically incorrect, they ended up severely retarded. Since Glen lived, he often thought a mental disability was a great excuse, especially when he messed up real bad; but the truth is he died, however briefly.
The hospital room will always remain in his mind. There was poor, thick glass up between himself and the boy next to him. It was also up facing the door to protect any visitors, and maybe the nurses as well. It was kind of like living in an isolation bubble, and that made it hard to get much hugging or holding, something that all three-and-a-half year olds need when they are in pain with a high fever. On top of that, Father had work, of course. Brother Tom was not yet five years old so he could not be left off at school and certainly not left home alone, and Mother was pregnant with Glen’s little sister. They did not want her anywhere near Glen.
To be sure, the boy next door had some of the same problems. Even though he got contact with his mother, the time was severely restricted. He did not get much hugging and holding either, and I think that lack of tender loving care had an effect on the final outcome. You see, Glen was used to not getting much in the way of attention. The other boy clearly needed the attention more.
As it was, the lack of attention Glen got in those first years may have been a blessing when he got sick. You see, he got even less than normal touching and cuddles – what they now know is vital to the healing process, especially for little children, only Glen did not miss it. And you can write this down: You can’t miss what you never had.
I’m afraid Glen’s friend cried a lot more than Glen, and not just from the meningitis. He and Glen made up for some of the lack of attention by making faces at each other through the glass. They became friends, though they could not talk through the glass and never shared a single word. He and Glen would jump on the beds, side by side, and slap their hands against the glass until the nurse came in and yelled at them. This went on, until the day when both appeared to take a downturn. By nightfall, it was touch and go.
Glen got awakened in the middle of the night and dragged off to some room where they put needle after needle in his rear. That was where he died. It was not for very long. He felt a shock which from after knowledge he would call electric, but it could have been something else. He came back.
Glen cannot tell you about tunnels, white lights or angels and such. He kind of wishes he could, but obviously he was too young to remember. He can say that God let him live again. It was not his time, and that consideration has hovered over his life ever since. Why did God let him live? What did God have in mind for his life? He is still searching because as far as he can tell up to this point, his life has been one of a great deal of suffering, disappointment and being neglected, rejected, even abused in one way or another and he knows that can’t be right.
One thing he can tell you is after that time, though I suppose most would claim it was in his makeup from the beginning, his life felt very disjointed. It felt like he was not always there in this life or in this world. He sometimes felt like a person in the wrong place and the wrong time – often at the wrong point in history. He sometimes felt like he belonged someplace else, and sometimes felt he was already in that other place and just biding his time in this place. He very rarely remembered his dreams though the few had a tendency to be both prophetic and profound. He is not sure he ever had what anyone would call a vision, though he may have since he caught himself (or more often was caught) daydreaming very vivid experiences from time to time.
One vivid memory from the hospital is when he got back to his bed, he found the other bed made up with fresh pillows and clean sheets. Almost certainly the other boy died. Glen never saw his friend again.
This, then, is the story of his life. Glen was born a disappointment, never really abused or even seriously neglected, but certainly ignored like he was not there, rejected after a fashion, treated like an afterthought, subject to negativity and criticism like he was wrong about everything, and he died when he was three-and-a-half. I would say, “The End” but he is still here. The only real question is, why?