I got his autopsy report today. I had a feeling it was coming, even though I didn’t expect it for a few more months. His death was so complicated, and I knew the investigation was ongoing. I had even received a call with another monthly update that there was still no timeline for them to complete the investigation. So, as I loaded my three-year-old and my baby in the car, a FedEx guy walked up to my garage and handed me the clipboard for my signature. What else could it be? I signed, and then looked at the sender on the envelope. It was from Washington D.C. What else could it be? I was on my way to the elementary school for my older kids’ Valentine’s Day parties. I tore it open anyway. Sure enough, inside was a sealed envelope strongly suggesting that I do not open it alone and warning me of its graphic contents. I set the envelope inside and drove away. Now what? Do I open it? My mind had been swirling for months wondering why he died. No one seemed to have an answer to my questions. They kept saying: when the autopsy is released maybe we will have some answers for you.
My in-laws had already let me know they had no interest in the whys. They felt like it would just re-open their healing wounds, or worse, cast my husband’s sacrifice in a poor light. They felt like they had dealt with the events surrounding his death. Why re-live them? Or know every gruesome detail?
I called my mom. She wanted to be here for me when I read it. Or even read it for me, and just tell me the major stuff, and leave out all the graphics. She is a nurse, and she would understand all the medical jargon.
I feel like it’s personal though. It’s a very personal part of my husband, and he wouldn’t want me to share it with the world. So, when I got back from the school, I stared at the envelope. Then, I set it up on a high shelf in the back of my closet. Maybe I’m not ready. Will I ever be? I want so badly to understand why he died. But, I am scared too. What if I find out something that I regret knowing? What if the images those words paint in my mind forever scar my memory of him? I can’t stand not knowing every detail. And, yet, the envelope remains unopened. If I knew the answers to all the whys, then I would have to keep it secret from everyone in my life. Or maybe I wouldn’t. Maybe it would just bring up more questions. It feels like a weight, or a burden trying to make yet another decision that I should never have to make at such a young age.