The envelope came in the mail stuffed between curled pages of Taco Bell and car oil change coupons and a stack of bills. It was a white envelope with my name and address written in my Uncle’s scrawl across the front. I had been waiting for this envelope for weeks.
Glenna’s Death Certificate was the key to whatever became of her. It would tell me how she died, where she died, and where she ended up, and now that I had it, I was afraid.
For over a month, I’ve searched for information, any tidbit about Glenna, and found little. My biggest fear was that once again, this envelope would contain nothing—like discovering a pyramid and assuming treasure, only to open an empty tomb.
“What does it say?” my husband asked. “Open it.”
So, I did.
The document came on very official-looking paper, folded in thirds, and had a china-blue design like the webbed patterns inside a kaleidoscope in the margin.
At the top, “State of Utah” was followed by “Certificate of Vital Record” and then “Certificate of Death.”
As I skimmed through the page, a buzzing began in my ears, and I had to reread the words several times to make it stop.
My Great-aunt’s name, birth date, and death date were typed in small font into corresponding slots. It stated she was in a nursing home in West Valley City, and she died within minutes of Cardiopulmonary Arrest. Glenna had had Coronary Artery Disease for years.
In another box under “other significant conditions contributing but not resulting in the underlying cause [of death]” was handwritten, “D.I.D.” and “Schizophrenia.”
“Whoa, she had D.I.D,” I called to my husband.
“Dissociative Identity Disorder,” I said. “It’s the new name for Multiple Personality Disorder.”
“How do you know that?”
The truth is, I have a large amount of information rattling around in my head that has no rhyme or reason, most of which correlates to serial killers and psychiatric diagnoses. Still, it’s not something that I should pull out at cocktail parties or even book club (although I do, sometimes, and as one might guess, it doesn’t come off very well with people outside of Crimecon).
“Did you know that about her?” he asked.
“I don’t think anybody knew about this diagnosis.”
Besides the two official diagnoses, I discovered that Glenna was cremated, and her ashes were buried somewhere in South Jordan, a world away from her mother’s grave in Ogden. Still, I was so glad that there was documentation that she had been cremated and disposed of properly.
For weeks searching and calling every single cemetery looking for a grave, I was concerned that there would be no record of her death at all, and the most horrible idea I had was that she was buried in someone’s backyard!
That’s the problem with secrets, especially long-term-family-history kind of secrets. When one is only given bits and pieces of information, one will fill in the rest with fear.
“What’s next?” my husband asked, looking over my shoulder at the document.
“Now?” I said, “Now, I’ve got to figure out how to get her medical records released.”