‘Sometimes I wish I had cancer so that my dad would give me some attention,’ confides my friend.
I should be surprised by her dark sentiments, but I’m not. In fact, I understand completely.
My friend’s parents divorced when she was 10 and ever since her father has been, at best, an absent presence in her life. For most of the year the pain of rejection is a dull ache, but for those big celebrations, like Christmas, the grief and loss come crashing through.
While I haven’t imagined myself with cancer, I have nurtured fantasies in which my dad recovers from a near-death experience and re-evaluates his life priorities.
In my dreams, my father, confronted by his own mortality, realises what he’s been missing and starts the process of reconnecting with his children and makes time to see his grandchildren.
I know that my fantasies are likely to remain just that: fantasies. All the research shows that daughters pay a high price for their parents’ divorce.