It started circulating yesterday on twitter, some reported that Nora Ephron had passed away and others that she was near death suffering complications from leukaemia, either way, it wasn’t a pretty picture. It was later confirmed that the legendary writer was indeed close to passing and there were worries that she wouldn’t make it through the night.
She didn’t. I woke up to news this morning that, Nora Ephron had passed away, aged 71.
Lately, our legends, real icons, have been dying be it naturally or by the hand of some disease. People who paved the way for our generation so we can enjoy the liberties we do today. Nora Ephron was a legend to the fullest meaning of the word, she did for us writers what Steve Jobs did for the tech industry; blew it out of the water and wide open so the possibilities are endless. She is one of the reasons I became a writer, her way with words was exceptional, she had a way of making me laugh and think at the same time; trust me this isn’t easy, because you either find something funny or your find it thought-provoking but she made funny, thought-provoking and thought-provoking, funny without being blasé about it. “I hope you will find some way to break the rules and a make a little trouble out there.” She said in her commencement speech to her alma mater Wellesley in 1996. A lot of funny but with a lot of thought to it. Nora Ephron encouraged writers to push their boundaries and see the wider world in words. She was a true creationist because she saw the world in words. I will forever be grateful to her and indebted. In the words of Sam Baker, Editor in Chief of Red Magazine, who tweeted this morning of Nora Ephron; “…she is the reason nearly all of us became writers :(.”
Truer words couldn’t have been tweeted.
She didn’t just write books, (Heartburn, please read,) she wrote scripts; When Harry Met Sally is a film everyone should watch and I dare you not to fall in love with it. Or Julie and Julia and not want to take up cooking in hopes of finding yourself or healing your soul. She was so pithy and bright and witty and wise. A soul ahead of her time, she gave words power and used it in the most prolific way; to lift our spirits. Humour was her secret and she made us all giddy with it. She made New York City a part of her love stories, maybe that’s why we’re so taken by the city, but she wrote around New York like no other author. She made us fall in love with the City because she was in love with the City. At other times she was, possibly inadvertently, championing a course for women to be greater than we were expected to be in all things. In the same address in Wellesley, she sighted that, women of her generation weren’t expected to do much of anything but she wound up having several careers, all of them successfully and many of them simultaneously.
It is true, she made us reach beyond our grasp, even further.
Born into a family of writers; her parents, Henry and Phoebe Ephron, were Hollywood screenwriters and her sisters, all four of them, went on to become writers. She often used herself as a subject matter in her work. Married three times, most famous to Carl Bernstein the reporter who helped uncover the Watergate scandal. The marriage unravelled publicly when he started an affair with Magaret Jay wife of British ambassador Peter Jay and daughter of ex-Prime minister James Callaghan. Ephron spawn a yarn and lessons from that break up into a best seller; Heartburn, a bloody good read, which was also made into a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Streep said of Ephron; “you could call on her for anything, doctors..recipes…speeches or just a few jokes, and we all did. She was an expert in the department of living well.” Indeed, Nora Ephron felt like someone you’d want to spend the weekend with, sharing life stories over a good meal and building sweet memories. She had great stories to tell, some she told, some we probably won’t get to hear but we are lucky for the ones she told us.
‘…when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” a line from one of my favourite quotes of hers from the movie, When Harry met Sally.
We may not have gotten to spend the rest of our lives with you but we are thankful for the parts of yours you shared with us. You are missed, will always be missed, but will be remembered for blessing us with such wit. Knowing that you left us with the greatest words of all; “above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim…” for you are a heroine to us all, we pray that you are Resting in Perfect Peace.