In the early years after Joan Rivers launched her jewelry line on QVC, she had a signature piece: a bee pin.
She designed these small bee pins in every combination of crystals and enamel, with all kinds of themes, even the American flag. And Rivers often told the story of the bee, and why it had become emblematic for her.
Rivers explained that if you looked at aerodynamics, at science, the bumble bee should not be able to fly. Physically, it was just not anatomically equipped to soar. Yet it did, defying gravity, defying logic. The bee was a creature that defied and beat the odds, a miracle.
Rivers identified with these creatures. But this time, she could not pull off the miracle. We were so sad to hear that she had passed away today.
Now let’s not sugarcoat the truth. Rivers could sting just like a bee, too. Her humor could be polarizing and shocking. We’re not Jewish, but we cringed when she made a joke about German-born Heidi Klum and the Nazi ovens.
Yet she could also make us laugh so hard we cried. We remember one night watching her on QVC with host Rick Domeier, and she was talking about some topical sex scandal, making comments about hookers, and Rick lost it.
He couldn’t stop laughing, and we couldn’t stop laughing. We laughed so hard we cried. We had to get a tissue to wipe the tears from our eyes. That’s how we’d like to remember Rivers.
One of the things we like about watching celebrities on home shopping networks is that the programming is live, and you can often get a real sense about what the celeb is like. If they get impatient or nasty with a host or caller, you see it, unfiltered.
One of the things we liked about Rivers is that this tough-talking New Yorker would always be gracious and kind when talking to QVC viewers, even the ones who were obviously from small towns in the South and Midwest, women who you would think would have very little in common with her. She found ways to relate to them.
Rivers obviously had a passion for jewelry, which of course we could identify with. You could tell she was very hands-on in terms of the design of the jewelry — and later the accessories, clothing and beauty products — that she sold on QVC, where she built a multimillion business.
We got a kick watching Rivers on her E! show “Fashion Police,” and even in the film documentary on her, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” wearing jewelry from her QVC line.
When we heard the circumstances leading up to Rivers’ hospitalization, we were not optimistic. We used to blog for a TBI lawyer on brain injury, and we can tell you more about traumatic brain injury, concussions, CTE and dementia than you’d ever want to know. Rivers’ circumstances did not sound good to us.
We don’t know how long Rivers’ brain was without oxygen when she went into cardiac arrest, but she had to be transported from her the clinic where she was having her vocal-cord procedure to the hospital. To us, that sounded like it would add up to a lot of time without precious oxygen getting to her brain.
Still, we prayed for her, as we do now for her daughter Melissa and grandson Cooper.
It’s been a bad couple of weeks. We were shocked by Robin Williams’ suicide. We are jarred by Rivers’ death.
And when we went to New York Sports Club tonight, one of the attendants told us that a woman who lived in a condo above the gym had committed suicide earlier in the night.
So many souls have left here much too soon, as far as we are concerned. We hope that Rivers and Williams are trading jokes tonight.