My Letter

A longtime friend of mine died in 2015. We had met in college in 1950 and kept in touch through the years.

She enjoyed going to plays, the symphony, the art museum and various other civic functions.

She became seriously ill in January 2015. I went to the hospital and stayed with her for several hours even though she did not know I was there.

The next morning she was still unconscious and I was told that she would never be able to breath on her own, so at 2 o'clock the doctor was going to turn off the machine and she would die.

I stayed by her bed , holding her hand, until they told me the time had come. I left because I did not want to be there when she died.

In April of 2016 I went to the cemetery to see her grave. It had a simple stone on it with just her name, birth and death dates.

I was interested in her birth date because I never knew it. We never celebrated our birthdays together; only gifts at Christmas.

A year later, April of 2017, I visited her grave again, only to find the tombstone gone.

I emailed the cemetery and asked why her stone had been removed. They responded and said there had never been a stone on her grave but there would be one soon. They had been given the money to put a tombstone there but it had been overlooked.

The tombstone on her grave now is almost identical to the one I saw in 2016.

Was it a vision I had - who knows. It was as real as the tombstone that now exists.

- Betsy J. Shaw

July 9, 2018

Betsy J. Shaw, Cemetery Preservationist

This letter is part of the Death Letter Project - North Carolina, a means to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, NC.


Michael Palko