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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

Secrets Inside of a 
Patient Violet Cloud

Updated: May 5, 2021

Thoughtful Girl, Maxpixel
Thoughtful Girl, Maxpixel

I wandered back to the child’s restin’ place. “I suppose you are number 50.” My voice cracked. I knelt down and dug a shallow hole with my hands, quickly foldin’ the wilted flowers into the earth by the head of the fresh grave. I wiped my hands on my apron, bowed my head, and tried to ignore the agitatin’ mosquitoes that swarmed around me.

“Heavenly Father, I come before You, meek and lowly in heart, to ask earnestly that You accept the soul of this innocent child to be safe in Your arms. Without faith, it is impossible to take comfort in these times. I pray for his or her folks and that You will bless them in their hour of need. And I pray for life everlastin’ and all that is good. A-men.”

The song of the hermit thrush spiraled down from the trees as salty tears mixed with a tinge of strawberries and fresh earth. A twig snapped. I heard rustlin’ in the trees as a creature scampered towards the river at the bottom of the hill.

The sun lingered long enough for hope, leavin’ the day and all its secrets inside of a patient, violet cloud. I took one last look at the spindly flowers layin’ face down on the soil, tucked my wayward curl into my bonnet, and set out for home. ~ Abigail Hodgdon, June 30, 1872, Carroll County Farm Cemetery, NH ~ EXCERPT: Etched in Granite Historical Fiction Series, Book One ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Where Does it Begin? I grew up in a town during a time when innocence thrived. Of course, like most children, we didn’t know it. We were safe and free. We didn’t have to think about mass shootings, too much time spent online, or inappropriate television shows. We were lucky to get four channels. Thank goodness for the rabbit ears, and later we stepped up to the rotor antenna.

Much of our time was spent outdoors playing. During all four seasons, we played from morning until just before supper. The ringing of the church bell in the center of town guided us home when necessary.

I have recently given thought to an activity that, at the time, seems almost as if it was foreshadowing my life’s purpose. Abigail has been instrumental in bringing some of the deepest parts of my being to the forefront. I am not always aware when writing these stories. Throughout time—often after my books are published—I become conscious of the stories in me that have traveled in time, ending up on the page.

I was just eight years old when I had the idea to play in the cemetery and stop and read the stones. Being in an old New England town, there is an abundance of early graves.

I’m not sure why, but I believed that praying for certain souls was a natural thing to do. My family was not religious. I attended Sunday school and later sang in a church choir. This was outside of my family. As a family unit, we were not church-goers. My connection to the church was of my own doing. I will admit that it was the music that brought me there. Music was and continues to be my sanctuary.

It began with one particular cemetery. I was with my friend who lived across the road from this site. One day, when we were wandering in it, I decided that it was a good idea to pray. I knelt in front of one of the graves, read the name, and prayed. My friend had no interest in playing or especially praying there. At first, she was hesitant and just watched. That was fine with me. But soon, she followed my lead.

For a few years, the act of praying for souls was customary for me. I cannot recall the initial reason for my inspiration to do this. Nor can I say why I would decide to drop my bike and wander into a cemetery to walk amongst the stones and pray. It was just something that I did.

Now, many years later, this acknowledgment and praying for those who have departed reached another level. I comprehend the powerful meaning rooted in the act of shining light in dark places. Trusting the process without too much over-thinking has served me well. The answers arise when the time is right. Or they remain dormant.

I am grateful that this memory recently came to the forefront. It is essential, validating, to continue with my work during such unprecedented times on this Earth. Nothing happens by accident. Special thanks to my friend, Ron, for shining his light.


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