Like you, I was struck by the death of Nora Ephron. I kept saying to Bill, “I can’t believe it.” Tears surprised me.
Nora spoke to me through her books (Her last one, I Remember Nothing, is reviewed in the left sidebar.) She made me laugh, and I passed her books around to my friends. Like you, I felt as if she and I were friends. I can’t believe such a vibrant, creative, insightful, witty, valuable life is gone.
I’m unhappy now, made so by feelings of disagreement with my old friend. As I reread I Feel Bad About My Neck, I was struck by the negativity in her words. Here are some examples:
Every so often I read a book about age, and whoever’s writing it says it’s great to be old. It’s great to be wise and sage and mellow: it’s great to be at the point where you understand just what matters in life. I can’t stand people who say things like this.
That would be me. Here’s another:
Sometimes I go out to lunch with my girlfriends — I got that far into the sentence and caught myself. I suppose I mean my women friends. We are no longer girls and have not been girls for forty years.
Sigh. What a worldview. Lastly:
But the honest truth is that it’s sad to be over sixty. The long shadows are everywhere–friends dying and battling illness. A miasma of melancholy hangs there, forcing you to deal with the fact that your life, however happy and successful, has been full of disappointments and mistakes, little ones and big ones. There are dreams that are never quite going to come true, ambitions that will never quite be realized. There are, in short, regrets.
I Feel Bad About My Neck was published in 2008. We now know that Nora was suffering from leukemia at the time, and I’m flattened by the fact that she could write (at all), write things that were funny, and keep her illness a secret while ensuring that her show went on. What a champ.
But a certain part of me wants to – needs to – live in denial of mortality, so for my mental health, I’m going to keep referring to myself and my friends as girls, or even the hick-ish gals. I’m not “full of regrets” even though I’ve experienced (and caused) great pain in my life. I respect the pain, but I need to sublimate it and move forward with anticipation and excitement.
Nora, I’ll never be half the person you were. Rest in peace, girl.