We all have bad days. Difficult months. Challenging years. But every once in awhile, it seems like the stars of “fuck you.” align to create something so cruel that it should be fiction and then hands it to someone and walks away.
That’s what happened to Tig in less than one year. People want to make sense of things, so they say it’s random, or God only gives you what He thinks you can handle, or they wonder what you did in a previous life. But that’s now how things work. Things just happen.
In 2012 Tig got sick and misdiagnosed. She was finally admitted to the hospital with C.diff which could have taken her out. The pain was intense, she was weak from being unable to eat for so long and if this was the only thing happening in her life, it would have still felt unmanageable at times.
Then her mother died.
A random, bullshit death. She fell and hit her head. Her husband checked her out and she said she felt fine, so they went back to watching TV until he went to bed. He found her the next morning, sitting in her chair, unresponsive.
Tig, still in agony and dealing with C.diff, got on a plane to head to the hospital so she could sit by her mother, counting breaths after taking her off life support, waiting for the last one.
Then she got breast cancer.
Then she went back to work. She’s a comic. Work is what she does.
“Good evening. Hello. I have cancer. How are you? Hi, how are you? Is everybody having a good time? I have cancer.”
There was also a breakup, a new relationship that wasn’t awesome, family dynamics, and regular life.
But mostly this book is about Tig’s mother. And it’s wonderful and confusing and sad and funny.
There will never be a lack of Mother/Daughter topics. Articles, fiction, nonfiction, television, movies, songs… All relationships are complicated, and Mothers and Daughters have their own things. Any adult daughter who pauses to think about her relationship with her mother and forces herself to think of it from her adult perspective and not the perspective of the age she was at the time is probably going to have moments of “Oh. Fuck.”
Tig had to do it all in the past tense. She had to remember her mother as a mother, but also think about who she was as a person.
She wasn’t the best mother. She rarely knew where Tig and her brother were. She wasn’t interested in getting to things on time or being home or giving up her social life. She loved her kids, but being a mom wasn’t on her list of things to do. It infuriated Tig that there were no rules or structure and that she’d have to go wander the neighborhood to find which pool her mom was stretched out next to so she could drag her home.
But she loved her kids and she taught by example that Tig had value. When a teacher would imply that Tig needed to be controlled or made to fit in, Tig’s mom would lose it and tell Tig’s teachers to go to hell. Tig was fine. She was independent. She knew what was important. Tig’s mom might not know where she was, but that wasn’t the point.
Years after her mother’s death and her recovery from cancer (but always looking at the percentage of it coming back) Tig tells her life’s story through the events of less than a year. People kept telling her how brave she was and she wondered if they’d feel the same way knowing she had spent the last two days on the couch, sobbing for her mother and waiting for the cancer to kill her. She thinks of the difficult relationship she had with her stepfather and watches in amazement as it becomes something new after her mom dies. Another moment of unfairness that her mom had to die for it to happen.
Through it all, Tig continues to work on her own life. Like everyone, she analyzes her relationships, thinks about work, decides what’s important and live her life. But she does it knowing she almost died, she still could die, and she’ll never see her mom again.
I try to get memoirs on audio because I want to hear the words the way the author meant them to be said. Tig knows where to put the pauses and what beats to hit. As a comedian, the rhythm is important and I wanted her to tell me the story. Tig did not disappoint.