I can tell you what the problems are. In a very real sense, they aren’t problems.
I will roll off this project and it will become someone else’s problem. It won’t get better, but it won’t be my pile of crud to deal with. That’s not nothing. I’m actively working on finding another gig, so that will help as well.
I can tell you, at least intellectually, it’s normal to feel like I’m not quite smart enough to be back in grad school. I can tell you that everyone feels this way, it will pass. I can tell you, from knowing some prof’s, that the prof feels that way. It’s a feeling and not fact. It will pass. I tell myself this in the same way that I tell everyone else.
I can tell you that the problem of my nephew dying is in some senses not a problem. There is nothing to be fixed. There is nothing to do. There is not a problem.
And that’s the problem.
My family, those I love, they are walking through hell. I can go and help do laundry and I can text and call and tell them that I love them. When Christie asks if I will come and curl up in bed with her on the day that she can’t get out, I can tell her that I will. I will hold her and when it’s time, I will drag her out of bed. I will come at the end, if they wish. I will come and I will talk to doctor’s and I will direct traffic and I will kindly tell Christie when it is time to let go. I will look her dead in the eye and tell her that this is the hardest thing that will ever be asked of her, but she will not do it alone.
I will tell my nephew that death is a door we go through alone, but right up until that moment he crosses the threshold? I will be there. When he crosses? I will remain behind and I will hold his wife and children. I will guard them with every bit of fierceness I possess. I imagine I will find more than I thought I had.
I think of verses and I think of poetry.
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”.
“They also serve who only stand and wait”.
Doing laundry and buying milk and talking on the phone are not, I suppose, waiting. But they feel like it. My family is going through hell, and I can make sure they have clean underwear and a cup of tea. I’d say it’s something, but in the middle of hell? Let’s be honest. It’s absolutely nothing.
I can do nothing.
And that’s a problem.