I am finding myself in a difficult situation with a research colleague. We worked on two projects - one currently with the journal and the other I am working on. She has gone completely silent despite regular follow-ups from my side. She is abroad for further studies, and we have kept in touch with regular communication. I have contacted my co-workers and they say that yes they do hear from her and that she is doing fine. My last interaction with her several weeks ago was pleasant - there were no issues.
The issue is a) The article with the journal is under review and she is the first author, I am the corresponding author. When the article comes back with corrections, she is nowhere to be reached and will not/no longer respond to any messages. I do not want to over-rule/over-ride her role and do the corrections myself b) She agreed to cover article processing charges (APC) - but now since she has disappeared, this has left us in a big quandary c) I am traveling abroad for further studies in 2-3 weeks, for the second paper I need to take informed consent from the patient, get their perspective, and examine their current status. I had messaged thrice over several weeks if she has taken consent from the family but no response whatsoever. I tried calling - again radio silence. We were meant to split our work by half, but with no response from her side I cannot do anything or proceed forward.
I find the situation very frustrating and distressing. It is unprofessional on her behalf. Could she be going through something - I did entertain that thought, but my colleagues say she is doing very well and is responsive to them. I do want to quit and message her that I no longer want to participate in this project, but I have done a lot of work and it is unfair at this stage. I can give her the login and password credentials for the paper with the journal to respond to peer review and settle APC if she wishes to never ever hear from me again. I do not want to go ahead and do everything on my own, which I can, but it would be unfair to proceed without her input.
In life, I wouldn't mind with ghosting or rejection, but in research after many months/years of work, for a person to ghost you is very distressing and traumatising. I fear collaborating with others lest they should decide to disappear and cut contact for no reason after months/years of work.