Nora Ephron has been on my mind a lot today. Since I learned
of her death last night of cancer at only 71, I've been
replaying scenes of my favorite movies in my head, just
enjoying the happiness she brought to so many via her written
How that woman could write! Ephron had such a personal way of
crafting sentences that made you feel related to, comforted
and just plain happy. She had a way of creating characters
and dialogue whose struggles, fears and joys could so mirror
our own. That's why Ephron was so successful. She made us
want to be friends with her characters. With her.
It's a running joke among my friends about the number of
times I've watched "You've Got Mail" - a movie that wasn't
exactly "When Harry Met Sally" in the hit department. In
college, my roommate Jenny and I used to fall asleep to the
VHS tape every night. Its simple, innocent storyline was so
comforting. No matter what college-aged trials we might fall
asleep with, in the morning, Joe and Kathleen would be united
in Central Park with dog Brinkley looking on in delight.
Meg Ryan's endearing scene with Tom Hanks when she's home
sick is the reason that daisies are my favorite flower. Even
though I've long passed the days when August meant
school-supply shopping, I still long for bouquets of freshly
sharpened pencils. When November rolls around and people wish
me a Happy Thanksgiving, I have to bite my tongue not to say
"Happy Thanksgiving back" in an accent. Not everyone has
committed "You've Got Mail" to memory.
When Jenny moved out of the country in 2008 for a couple of
years, my parting gift to her was a copy of our favorite
movie - now in DVD format. I hoped she would watch it if she
ever felt lonely and be brought back to the days when we
would recite lines along with Kathleen and Joe, and crazy
Birdie, and narcissistic Frank, and just laugh and laugh.
In the end, that's why Ephron gave us: the gift of a big
laugh. Upon learning of her death, my mom immediately
remarked on Ephron's search of cabbage strudel in New
York City, printed in the NY Times in 2005. If
you haven't read it, please do. It's like a scene out of one
of her movies: a few hundred words about nothing and yet
about everything. After all, we've all lost our own cabbage
This weekend, in honor of Ephron, Jenny and I are having a
"You've Got Mail" viewing party. And though we might talk
through the whole movie - having long ago passed the point
where we needed to follow the plot line - we'll soak up all
of the innocence and delights Ephron poured into the script.
We'll be like kids again - and we'll laugh and laugh, just
like Ephron intended.
We're so sorry to lose you, Nora, but we thank you for your
love of words and your love of laughter. You're going to have
so many friends in heaven.