From a special guest blogger: "Father's Day Without Dad"

Hi! In honor of Father’s Day, I invited Cathy Bueti to guest blog. She carries the true spirit of Sally’s Circle: she’s a breast cancer survivor and recently lost her father to cancer, but her memoir, “Breastless in the City” (LOVE the title!), is all about how she found love, happiness, and hope throughout it all. Take it away, Cathy, and thanks for sharing such honest thoughts.

I have been avoiding the card aisle for weeks now. I don’t want to see commercials or fliers advertising Father’s Day sales. I think about how none of that matters. I still have moments when it doesn’t register in my head, or rather my heart, that I don’t have a dad anymore. This is my second Father’s Day without him. He passed away from pancreatic cancer on June 2, 2008. He suffered with it for a year. During that time I hardly saw him. We spoke on the phone and emailed. That was what our relationship had become over the years. Very distant and difficult.

I realized at the end that he did the best he could. Our relationship was strained to say the least. He was an abusive alcoholic when I was growing up. He was never a happy man even when he quit drinking. It was very difficult to get along with him. I learned to forgive although I wish it had happened sooner. The last time I saw him was on his 60th birthday only two months before he died. I hadn’t seen him in a year since his diagnosis and subsequent surgery. I was grateful he invited me over to see him that day. That was something he never did. When I saw him things came out of his mouth that he never said before.

“Next time I will be a better dad.” He said
“You did the best you could.” I replied.
He said “No, I did what was best for me.”

As the tears began to roll down my cheeks I thought about how I wished this conversation had come along years earlier. When he walked over to me I knew it would be goodbye. He put his arms around me and I cringed at how broken his thin body felt. I heard him whisper “I love my little girl.” I cried as I thought about how this was something he never said and wished he didn’t wait till it was too late. Although he didn’t say it in his own way he showed me at the worst times of my life. He was with me when my husband died, he was with me when I was told I had cancer. Somehow when the chips were down in my life he pushed his way back in to be there for me. I didn’t appreciate it at the time. The tough part though was how absent he was when I was experiencing the good things that life brought me.

I thought he could be OK even with a cancer diagnosis. I was OK, I survived. I wanted him to survive too. This loss is tough for me both as a daughter and as a cancer survivor. I feel guilty sometimes that I am still here.

Even though I think of him often on days such as this it always seems harder. So on this Father’s Day I will be thinking of him with the knowledge that his spirit lives on. Sometimes I feel him around me. Those moments bring me tears and at the same time also bring a smile.