last week i got news that a friend and colleague in the States had been given 4 months to live. Fuck Fuck Fuck. J had been diagnosed with brain cancer last year and had undergone the nasty therapies, a round of neuro-surgery and returned back to her rather high stress professorial position and continued her role as mummy to two small boys aged 6 and 4 and partner to K. It has spread further in her brain and now her spine. they have made the decision to stop chemo and live life as best as they can until the cancer takes her. Shes too sick to fly back and both her parents are too sick to fly there. Its a terrible situation. The pain of saying goodbye to your children and living with the knowledge that you wont be around for them and to comfort them in their loss is breaking my heart.
What do you do with information and events like these to make someones loss and grief meaningful? After some reflection i decided to give myself a break, stop worrying about finishing my PhD and take the time that i have been lucky enough to have, to enjoy my new boy and our new family without thinking about work. I need to fully embrace living a family life while i have the opportunity. academic life is tough this way. many women do what i do and attempt to use their maternity leave as an opportunity to finish their degrees and or a few peer reviewed papers so as not to 'waste time'. never fully letting go and 'taking leave'. There is an idea that if you show yourself to be interested in mothering then by default, you are not as committed to academic pursuit. The flow on implication is that you will be overlooked for promotion, not taken as seriously etc. What ends up invariably happenning is that you just work extra hard when on leave, try and do 2 jobs on one timeline and end up going back to work, relishing 'the break'.
Additionally, my prof has been having an affair with a colleague, lost his marriage and cant handle the heat and has decided to quit and take up a post overseas (with said colleague) this December and will no longer be around to supervise the completion of my thesis. i dont want to bust a gut finsihing up when work will be in chaos when i get back and no one there to really 'care' if i've finshed up yet or not.
So im going to attempt to practice what i preach to others; work/life balance, life meaning, SLOW living etc, and take it SLOW in honour of my friend who no longer has the choice.