I submitted my application for a few schools with Dec 15 deadlines a while ago. One of my letter writers still hasn't submitted anything yet. I called these schools and they said they generally give letter writers until early January to submit letters but I fear that they will start looking at applications right away.
The letter writer in question has become unresponsive. What's worst is that I found out that this letter writer is on leave and won't be back until mid-late January. They might not even submit to the schools with Jan 15 deadlines that I am applying to shortly. The only way I can contact them is through email, but I have written to them and haven't heard anything back. My letter writer probably completely forgot about me.
I don't want to not attend graduate school just because a letter writer never submitted anything. I have spent too much effort on this. I have struggled every day, balancing work, which takes up almost the whole day, with graduate applications, and I have sacrificed, for the most part, a year to two of my life for this pursuit. I have never stopped thinking about this for the past one to two years. Every day, every hour, every minute, and every second is becoming increasingly painful.
I don't know what the hell to do if I get rejected by all places I apply to. I don't know any other professor that well at my old institution, and the department will be closed for the Christmas break anyway. My last resort is to ask for an LOR from a work colleague and request a referee change from those schools, but LORs from employers in non-research settings aren't all that valued.