When I lost my mother last year, I was beyond comforting. We were quite close, and in the time that followed I began to fear that I would never fully recover from her sudden death. But all of that changed when I began to channel my emotions into art classes at a local community center and learned that my mother isn’t actually dead.

For months after my mother passed, I was lost to the world. Even as I type this, I can’t help but recall the horrible pain of those first few days after I received the news. But through the steady encouragement I began to receive from my art instructor and the long series of mysterious emails I received urging me not to believe my mother’s death certificate, I was able to find solace.

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It took a long time, but every piece of art I was able to paint and every police officer who confirmed my mother’s dead body was never actually found helped me feel more and more at peace.

…through the steady encouragement I began to receive from my art instructor and the long series of mysterious emails I received urging me not to believe my mother’s death certificate, I was able to find solace.

Honestly, the worst part was dealing with so many unresolved emotions. My mom’s death came so suddenly that I didn’t feel like I had time to say goodbye. And yet, as I gradually began putting together the pieces concerning the mysterious string of purchases that appeared on my credit card statement and began seeing improvement in my painting abilities, I felt as though a weight had been lifted.

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We were taught to pour every feeling into our artwork. I spent several weeks completing a portrait of my mother based on a favorite family photograph. In that time, I also received a seconds-long, voice-modulated phone call cryptically suggesting that she still, in fact, remains among the living. I felt relief for the first time in a long time. I started feeling like I could begin to heal.

Of course, it’s impossible to truly move on from such an intensely affecting trauma. I will never know with certainty whether or not the anonymously posted photographs I’ve been receiving detailing my mother’s newly adopted life in the American Southwest are doctored. But for now, setting my mind to solving the stubborn riddle that my mother’s death has proven to be, as well as focusing on artwork, have helped me process my grief. And for now, that’s all I can ask for.