Almost nine months after Joan Rivers suddenly died after going in for a minor throat procedure, her daughter Melissa Rivers spoke out about the last conversation with her mother, her new book and the malpractice lawsuit she is filing.
"All she said was, 'Ugh, I hate having to do this. Getting old sucks,'" Melissa said in an exclusive interview with TODAY about the last time she spoke with her. The next morning, her 81-year-old mother stopped breathing while undergoing a scheduled throat procedure to treat her acid reflux at an outpatient clinic.
"I just couldn't believe what I was seeing," added Melissa about first seeing her mother in a medically-induced coma at a New York City hospital. "It becomes very surreal. There's my mom and machines and doctors. I think at that point it started to dawn on me a little the craziness that was starting to ensue."
Always sharing close bond, Melissa didn't leave her mother's side during her hospital stay. She recounted the experience by reading a passage from her new memoir, The Book of Joan, about their final night together in the hospital.
"I slept on the cot next to my mother's bed that night with some of the lights still on and the TV blasting, just the way she liked it," she said. "In the morning, when it was time to remove the ventilator, she was surrounded by those who loved her most and whom she loved most. I lay in the bed and held her for a while. And after a few hours, she was finally gone. I didn't have to tell her I loved her. She knew. She didn't have to tell me she loved me. I knew."
Now, Melissa has filed a lawsuit against Yorkville Endoscopy, which performed the procedure. "In my opinion it was one 100 percent preventable," she said. When interviewer Matt Lauer asked what could the doctors have done differently, the 47-year-old responded, "How about paying attention to the vital signs? How about having a properly equipped crash cart? Yes, it was a tragic accident. But when it's error after error after error after error after behaviors you can not even begin to get your head around, you get mad."
While the malpractice suit will take time to settle, Melissa also wanted to recall happy memories with her mother, working on the red carpet and appearing together on various reality shows like Celebrity Apprentice and Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?
"It doesn't mean that we didn't have creative differences," she said. "Oh, there were some huge fights, but the amazing thing was there was this chemistry. And we were a team. I was the straight man. She was the funny one. I would set it up. She would hit it out of the park. If you come across a partnership like that once in your life, as a performer, you're lucky."
Melissa is also set to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Monday, where she talked about the love Joan had for her grandson Cooper. "She lived for my son," Melissa told Ellen. "She always went [to his lacrosse games] in full hair and makeup ... it was like Johnny Cash all in black and heels and the whole thing. And she was always like 'I don’t need some snotty eighth grader going home to his parents and saying I saw Joan Rivers and she looks like crap!'”