'Brinkley is my dog': Nora Ephron remembered

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 words.

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 strudel.

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.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2012