I hesitate to share this, because it is so deeply personal – but I need some good advice. I’m in a tough situation, and I don’t know what to do. This is long. I apologize in advance for that. A little background. I’m an elementary school teacher at a small private school in a very remote area. Ten years ago, my loved one was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. For the past six years, his care has taken a great deal of my time. For the last two years, his care took most every moment of my spare time, outside of teaching. The past six months? It has taken every waking hour outside of teaching. I haven’t had a social life in years. But his is what being a family means -- we take care of each other. I should add that during these 10 years, I’ve only missed a day and a half of school because of it. I kept up with all of my work, did engaging lesson plans and lessons, graded assignments quickly, followed all the rules, communicated with parents, attended faculty meetings, etc., and did my best under the circumstances. I’ve been pleasant, professional and cheerful while teaching, but yes, there have been times I’ve been exhausted. My students thrived, did a fantastic job on testing, made good grades, and had no discipline problems. School was my shining star – my place of salvation. It kept me going. For the past six months, I’ve had to let some things fall by the wayside – things like nights and weekends at school activities. Things like attending school sporting events, the school play, and fundraisers. I communicated with my principal often about this, but he wasn’t terribly understanding. I’ve done all my own extracurriculars, but just haven’t had the time or energy to be as supportive of things that happen after school hours as I’ve been in the past. I had to set priorities. I don’t think, under the circumstances, that was unreasonable. Once it became necessary, I hired medical people to be with him during the day so I could continue working – but nights and weekends I was on my own. While my loved one was physically fine, as the disease progressed, his memory and reasoning skills disappeared. Everything fell on me. Medical, financial, legal – I had to take over everything. He just couldn’t do it anymore. About two years ago, I had to take his car away because he was no longer driving safely. I became his legal guardian, because he was no longer able to make rational decisions. That was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. In the past six months, things progressed, and I was in the process of having him placed in a medical facility, because it was becoming too much for me to handle alone. Then last month, he fell and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was no worse for wear when all was said and done – other than being a bit bruised and sore, he didn’t break anything. But he had hit his head, so they did a brain scan to make sure there was no problem. My world came to a screeching halt that early morning. The doctor called me out into the hall, and then told me the news. Inoperable brain cancer. Very advanced brain cancer. The words hit like a ton of bricks. I was told to take him home, make him comfortable, to get his affairs in order... I took him home. I hired round-the-clock nurses. I called in hospice. Within days, he was bedridden and he didn’t know me anymore. He was confused and lost. We only had two weeks left of school at this point. The doctors said hospice could go on for months. Believe it or not, I went to work every day. It was the only bright spot in my life. I couldn’t sit up with him 24 hours a day and do nothing else. Teaching kept me going. I stayed up all night with him, and was operating on about 3-5 hours sleep a night those last two weeks of school, but I seemed to have the strength of ten. Somehow, I did it. When the last day for students came, I left too. I didn’t stay for the last week for teachers. I asked my principal first, and he agreed. Because I wasn't there for the last week for teachers, my school sent over my new contract for me to sign. It had a letter with it that said I needed to sign it and return within 4 days. This was a month earlier than we usually signed contracts. I asked for an extension, because I was in no state-of-mind to make a major life decision right then. My principal never responded to my request, so I took that as a no. I talked with our doctors about what they thought would happen, and was told hospice could go on for months. Reluctantly, I signed the contract and sent it in by the deadline. I’m the sole breadwinner. I’m the one with medical insurance. I could not risk losing my medical insurance. The morning after I signed the contract, he slipped into a coma. Thirty hours later, he died. I am so thankful I was at his side when it happened. From diagnosis to death took 15 days. I’m still in shock, really. I made the final arrangements. I wrote his obituary. I settled the estate. I donated all his clothes and personal possessions. I did that all within a week. Now, I look around. I’m alone. I have no family here. I have no social circle. My colleagues, while kind, are not close to me, I have no church family, no support circle. Nothing. Crickets. There is literally nothing here for me now. This is a very remote area. There is nothing here. I can’t imagine living here alone. I really think its time for me to move on. But I signed a contract to teach next year. I’ve always honored my word. I only signed the contract two weeks ago, but I still signed it. If I’m not coming back, I feel the need to tell them right away so they can start making plans to get someone else. School starts mid-August here. But I really want to take a couple weeks to travel and really think about my options. I don’t think rushing into a major life decision right now is the answer. I’m so torn. I want to leave, but I’ve always honored my commitments. But I can’t honestly see myself staying for another year. What should I do?