It’s scary when people you knew and considered your (rough) contemporaries start dying.
I didn’t know Nora Ephron well, but we were friendly acquaintances in the 1980s when we shared the same agent and would bump into each other at parties. I even remember meeting her father Henry — also a screenwriter and director — at an Edgar Award ceremony in 1986 when I was nominated and lost. They graciously came up and congratulated me anyway. It was the best part of the evening for me.
Naturally, I followed Nora’s career after we drifted apart. How could you not? She was a shooting star, one of those incredible people who could do everything well — write journalism, write novels, write screenplays, direct movies, even blog (well, that’s maybe not so hard).
And then there was the notoriety that came from her sometimes-difficult private life, the breakup with Carl Bernstein, which led to her novel Heartburn and the movie that followed, directed by Mike Nichols. Talk about taking lemons and making the proverbial lemonade. That was followed by When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and, recently, that foodie fun Julia & Julia – not to mention numerous others in between. Nora was not a lazy woman.
Now she’s dead at 71, an age you’re not supposed to die at anymore. You’re also not supposed to get leukemia. Maybe in the not-so-distant future people won’t. But that cure wasn’t soon enough for Nora, unfortunately.
May she rest in peace.
One other thing:
Nora died during a period of intense polarization in our country, maybe the most intense in our lives. Many old relationships have drifted apart. When I knew Nora, I was a liberal on her side of the fence. We never spoke after I made my political change, well over a decade ago now. It’s been that way for me with a lot of people, except for a few of my best and oldest friends.
And I know I’m not the only one. That splitting apart has been true for many others, often with much closer friends and family members. It’s the temper of the times.
But death, as any decent rabbi would say (so why shouldn’t I?), is a time to reflect. We all have our ideas and solutions for the world, how things should or shouldn’t be fixed. But we’re all just people, making our way. If we have compassion for each other even as we disagree, life might be better for all.
God knows it’s short enough.