Generally, it was the course of Glen’s life more than any given people that bothered Glen – and as time went on, it was more people than just family and teachers who were told in advance to make it hard. Brother Tom, of course, got all the best teachers. Mother made sure of that. She also made sure Glen did not have any of the same teachers Brother Tom had. Draw your own conclusions.
Once, Mother took Glen and Brother Tom to pick out a suit jacket. Brother Tom liked the one that Glen described as the light pea green that was left after someone threw up the soup. But Brother Tom wanted it so Mother bought that jacket. Glen did not begrudge the jacket his brother wanted, but he wondered out loud why she brought him if his opinion mattered so little. She answered because Glen would get that jacket the following year. Yeah, when colors like that are completely out of style. It also did not seem to matter that Tom was more tall and thin while Glen was more short and stocky. Glen was just supposed to make do with whatever Brother Tom handed down, when he was finished with it.
So it went. Brother Tom would write and share with Father. Baby Carol and Mother would be the girls together. The parents had their boy and their girl. Glen would be alone in his room, dreaming, but afraid to dream because every dream he ever had was crushed. He did some acting in high school and for a couple of years after. He was pretty good and knew it, but then came a summer – one not touched by his parents for a change – and he suffered the scorn of a young woman whose big brother happened to be the musical director for the company. She wanted Glen, but since he did not feel the same way about her he did not so much as get invited to be in the chorus.
The result was he had to get a real job that summer instead, and he never went back to the stage. You see, by age twenty he was questioning, what’s the point? He had no one. He had no encouragement, no support. He had no one to stand behind him, least of all his own family. At best, Mother thought the theater might be a nice hobby when he got old. So with only discouragement in his face, he gave up, but… He would try something else.
That is key. Glen never simply gave up. He was not a quitter. In fact, many would say he continued to try in many positions long after those position became untenable. So it was not the giving up part that mattered, it was the trying something else part. It was more like. Okay, that did not work so let’s go try something else. He searched, but for what?
Surely there had to be something to which he was called. There had to be something he could be good at that people would actually recognize and say good, supportive, encouraging things. There had to be something that his parents, while maybe not proud, might at least not call stupid, wrong and forget it. Glen had to find that thing. After all, he died when he was three-and-a-half, but he was brought back to life. The question still remained: Why did God let him live?
That question burned in his dreams.
Glen woke up every few days or weeks or months or in some cases years. He woke up and wondered where he had been all that time. He lived so often like a sleepwalker. The memories did not seem real. It was like some ancient golem or some modern android lived his life and downloaded the memories upon his return. What made it especially hard was the substitute Glen had no initiative. It spoke when spoken to, did as little as it could, and kept as low a profile as it could keep. It lived the routine – the pattern Glen set on his departure, sometimes to embarrassing ends which Glen then had to deal with upon his return.
Glen’s only grace was when he awoke, he always remembered something: an image, a place, an idea, something unnatural, impossible, fascinating. It was never a full memory and never a complete picture, but all the same he wrote these things down from as early as he could remember. He wrote things down from the day he learned to write. He filled notebooks, a whole library with islands, nations, armies and navies, great battles, monsters, struggles and some joys. They were shattered images, like shards from a broken mirror, able only to reflect the smallest pieces of the picture. They were like thousands of jigsaw puzzle pieces thrown together in the same box. What could a single piece really tell him?
Glen would try to remain awake and aware every day, but invariably when he tried, he would wake up a day, week, month or year later and ask, what just happened? He remembered, but it did not seem real. The reality seemed to be in the elusive pieces that always managed to stay just beyond the corner of his eye. Perhaps if he remained in focus, his life might have turned differently. But he could not, and it did not.
Every time he found something good, it got discontinued. And every time he strove for the light, the darkness would drag him back down. He had nowhere to turn when even the twenty-third psalm turned against him. He did not blame or even question God, necessarily. He simply did not understand…