Initially, discovering the Numbered Souls from the County Farm, orphanages, mills, and tenements was traumatic. However, I could not permit this misery and sorrow to find a permanent home in me.
I acknowledge the voices, once suppressed in fear, and after considering all facets of what I encountered, I find my way to the truth. It’s there; it waits patiently for relief from rage left unexpressed.
It took time, patience, and stillness to process my findings, which often took on the form of grief. I was firm in my descent into darkness, where these souls await transformation. Once again, I had to be willing to sift through the madness and face the unknown.
As I learned more each day, my heart overflowed. The harsh and somber information that I discovered, at times, was unexpected. I had to remember to exhale and embrace the void. Had I chosen to rush through every moment, I risked losing my sense of direction. There are three words that I told myself, sit with it.
This is what I do. In honoring the numbered souls, it is vital to consider all details—their suffering—in this manner.
As far as wandering into those dark places, devoid of light for well over a century, I am experienced. I trust myself as I travel through time, hoping to make the right choice between the path or the journey. When I am ready to draw back the veil, I know the consequences of owning the courage to look. Upon the revealing of these circumstances, there is no unseeing them. What I learn is imprinted on my soul to be carried for all my days. Sharing my words then becomes an urgent matter. It is personal. I took an oath to express what I unearth with dignity and discernment.
I continue writing The Crows’ Path, Book Four, and from time to time, I review the previous books in the series. Although I am the originator of these narratives, I respond with a fresh perspective. I see things I didn’t see before—things that were there all along. It is vital to strip away what I think I knew, giving the numbered souls an authentic voice.
The following letter is from Down from the Tree.
When you find this letter, I will have left this earth forever. Because I have chosen to take away my own life’s breath, I will not be with the angels that you so love. Do not cast blame. I will not name those who have caused pain. My end is my choice alone. What is a life worth to one who is left to rot and starve? I can only dream of lying in my own pine box.
As the milk in my breasts runs dry, aching for the daughter left untouched, it is not life or love but death that shakes my bones. There is no redemption, no place for me. There is no repair, just a final cleansing before I leave. Hence, I give my soul to the stillness of the pond, filled only with my tears. Please bury me in my yellow dress so that another may never wear it. Do not weep for me. Pray for the daughter that I bore in the pains of labor, yet never held in my arms, that she may never know of my fate.
Very Truly Yours,
Dolly May McGinnis
June 21, 1878