I’ve landed in Orlando, and am on the airport’s version of a train, heading out to meet my mother. On the other side lies an incomplete dissertation, a job I’m neglecting, an emaciated father who is likely only weeks away from a gruesome death, and a thousand-mile gap between me and my husband.

I’m tired, in every possible sense of the world, and I don’t want to leave the airport and face what’s out there.

I’m sure part of my current state is just plain physical exhaustion. I’ve been awake for something like 33 hours, and have spent most of that writing my dissertation, trying to beat a deadline I only recently discovered was 2 weeks away instead of 6. (That was a grammatically awkward sentence, I think, but I’m too tired to care.)

People are very kindly and gently telling me that I need to stop and sleep.  I just can’t.  I need to be finishing my dissertation — two of my classmates successfully defended their dissertations and earned their PhDs today, and another one will tomorrow, and I’ll be DAMNED if I will have my father die in the shadow of my procrastination-fueled failure.

And if I’m not working on that, I sure as hell should be catching up on my job.  I’ve almost abandoned my job these last few days. My boss has been the most amazingly supportive person, helping me figure out what’s critical and what’s not, finding people to cover things so I don’t even have to think about it, dropping everything and taking over a meeting for me when I just cannot for a moment even pretend to care about some of this stuff right now… For lack of a less clichéd phrase, I just can’t, I can’t even.

And there’s no way I can begin to describe how life-changing my boss has been to me and for my family right now… Mostly because I just don’t have the time or energy to try to put it in words that will do it justice.

The roof needs replacing on my house in New Mexico.  Just for added fun.

I thought I had two whole weeks at home, with my husband and our dogs and our NYC friends, but I couldn’t bear the idea of waiting up there any longer and not knowing what was happening with my dad. I would not be at all surprised if he gives up and lets go before the weekend is up. If I was sitting at home and waiting for my scheduled flight here on Sunday, and he died without me being there, I would never forgive myself.

I know I’m rambling. I’d rather ramble here than write some melodramatic nonsensical bullshit on a paper that will literally follow me the rest of my life. And maybe if I keep frantically thumbing my despair out onto my phone, I’ll be able to hold it together a little longer and not turn into a sobbing snotty mess in my mother’s jeep.

Sorry, Mom. I know I implied this was work I was dealing with on my phone. I just needed, desperately, to not lose it in the car.

I’m less than two minutes away from my dad’s house. I’m so afraid of what I’m about to find. I’m taking deep breaths and trying to work up the courage to get out of the vehicle.

I just want to be home. I want my husband and our dogs and our couch. I want to watch some goddamned Archer and yell PHRASING! at the television and laugh hysterically without a care in the world.

But we’ve parked, and my mom’s gotten out of the vehicle, so I guess it’s my turn.

As Sal keeps gently and compassionately reminding me:  one thing at a time.

Here goes.

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