Sunday, September 7, 2014

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers was laid to rest today.

I am usually timely on honoring the passing of artists who have affected me deeply, paying respect to them through a blog post and a painting of them.  It may not be much, but somehow that public proclamation makes me feel that if I draw one person's attention to the accomplishments of a fallen star, I have somehow put a brick in the wall of public consciousness.  Dear Abby, Lou Reed, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams, a personal friend.  I honored all of them of the day they died.

Yet somehow I couldn't do that for Joan.  Well, I couldn't immediately.  I was so struck by grief at her passing.  Maybe it was because I was still watching her, every single Friday night of Fashion Police and usually again in a rerun.  She felt a part of my life or at least she was part of my life ritual.   And last week on Tuesday, FP just had that 90-minute Emmy special so, you see, I just had had a fresh visit with her when I heard the news of her throat surgery gone very wrong.  In a strange way, I wasn't overly concerned about her being put into an induced coma.  I have a family relative that underwent that this year, and it seems like a logical, methodical procedure that was temporary until things "could be figured out."

I was in Nashville last week, but daily, I still would check online to see how Joan was doing--holding strong--that sounded good.  But then, "had suffered a cardiac arrest."  What?!  Yet next I read that she was stable, and then that she had been moved out of intensive care.  I was so relieved!  How could there be a world without caustic-tongued Joan?  As I had said about Robin Williams, she has been around for my whole life.  Joan, in some twisted Tim Burton-esque/Twilight Zone way, felt like my grandma.  Why, I had JUST written about her in a blog post here on August 16th, praising all that she has done, including co-writing the script for "The Girl Most Likely To."

I will still remember when my husband said to me (I feel like there have been too many times of late, when I can "remember" where I was when I heard bad news.), "Joan Rivers died."  I couldn't believe it!  She was doing better... I had thought.  The tears didn't come at first, even they shocked into inaction.  Then they started to flow and didn't stop as I watched every news program on E! and read every article online, and the thought of drawing Joan was completely impossible.  It was as if I just couldn't process that someone that indefatigable, that dogged, that FILLED with life, could be not in this life.

My brain needed convincing over and over again.  Today I watched CBS Sunday Morning and clips of her funeral, and days have passed, and I can start thinking of a fitting portrait for grand, spicier than a "ghost chile pepper", Joan.  I know what I will do, but not yet.

I know how saturated the world is with news.  And I know that after a week and a half of respect and clips, the world will start to move forward, onward, to the next piece of celebrity gossip, George Clooney's upcoming nuptials, (I saw it today), etc.  For that very fact, I feel bad that perhaps if there were 4 people who might have read these words here, now only one person may delve into this, so tired they are already of hearing about her.  Alas, it is human nature, and I do understand.  I'm sorry though, Joan.  I couldn't bare to type a word until now...that's how sorrowful I was, and still am, that you are gone.

"My heart is torn in half.  She wasn't done."  Sarah Silverman on Twitter


  1. Well said Jill. I have been putting off reading your post, for the very reason you could not write it. I am still mourning Robin, and now, Joan. Just as you said, I feel as if they have been in my life, always. I wanted to write, about how their loss.. how I have felt it so deeply. But I just can't. I pray for his wife and children. I pray for Melissa and her son. I pray for this world, forever changed.

    1. Sheila, I didn't see your comment until now. Thank you for commenting and also for sharing my/the world's grief (not only for her, but for Robin, too). I just re-read this myself, and I still feel tears well up. The horrible tragedy is that we now know it was medical error...she should have recovered, had a chicken salad sandwich and some jello, and then headed off to her next laughter-inducing engagement. I'm glad we had her talent for as long as we did, but I wanted more.