Nora Ephron is gone -- and I can't believe it. I had just gotten home from dinner Monday night when her son Max called me. "Mom is not going to wake up," he told me.
It was impossible news to take in. Whenever I was around her through the years the air crackled with energy and ideas and one-liners -- and a sense of celebration.
In fact, the last time I saw her was at a little gathering she put together to celebrate a friend, Rita Wilson, after her New York singing debut at Joe's Pub. That night from the stage, Rita had toasted Nora as her friend and mentor, and it struck me how many people she had played that role for. She was as talented at friendship as she was at everything else she tried.
She was also an integral part of the HuffPost family -- a contributing editor, an investor, a supporter, and a constant sounding board months before we launched. But, despite her amazing creative track record in which she excelled in so many different forms -- magazines, novels, essays, movies, plays, etc. -- Nora was initially reluctant to dip her toe in the blogosphere. She finally agreed after FBI agent Mark Felt revealed his identity as "Deep Throat" (which, as Carl Bernstein's ex-wife, was a subject close to her heart). That initial post -- which Nora called "Deep Throat and Me: Now It Can Be Told, and Not for the First Time Either" -- appeared in the first month of HuffPost's existence, and flew around the Internet from the moment she hit "publish." Nora the blogger was born.
She went on to write close to 100 posts for HuffPost over the years, each containing countless examples of her priceless wit and insight -- touching on everything from politics to pop culture to food (one of her specialties) to the summer joys of Shakespeare in the Park. Among her most unforgettable posts was a retelling of her "Weekend in Vegas," when she witnessed Steve Wynn accidentally tear a hole in a $139 million Picasso he'd just sold.
In time, Nora excelled not only as a blogger but as a blogging evangelist, spreading word of the medium's particular value and making many converts. She quickly grasped that "one of the reasons for blogging was to start the conversation and to create the community that comes together briefly to talk about things they might not be talking about if you hadn't written your blog." And, to the surprise of no one, she summed it all up with a memorable, perfect metaphor: "A blog was a soap bubble," she wrote, "meant to last just a moment or two."
She was a contributing editor who more than lived up to her name -- regularly offering up notes, suggestions, and terrific ideas. She was also the godmother of our very popular Divorce section. Two years ago I was spending the weekend with her on Long Island, as was Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times. One morning, Alessandra and I headed off on a long walk down the beach, and we ended up talking a lot about our divorces. When we got back to Nora's we told her about our talk, and she said that she'd actually been thinking for a while that HuffPost's next section should be devoted to all things divorce.
Over breakfast, Nora came up with the tagline for the section -- "Marriage comes and goes but divorce is forever" -- and Alessandra offered up what has become our inaugural divorce aphorism (the first in a series): "His happiness is a small price to pay for my freedom!" As Nora said, "Far too much attention is paid to aphorisms about falling in love and not nearly enough to those about falling out of love." So the spark was lit and, four months later, we launched HuffPost Divorce -- featuring an exclusive essay about divorce taken from Nora's book, I Remember Nothing.
A few months ago, over dinner with her and her beloved husband Nick Pileggi, she told me that she had come up with a new series for HuffPost called "Breakover," focused on people who have rebuilt their lives after a terrible event -- divorce, illness, the death of a loved one, etc. Then, a few days after that dinner, she told me that she'd bought the Breakover URL and was giving it to me as a present. And just a month ago, she approved the first subject of our new Breakover video series.
Professionally, her legacy will be that of an exceptionally gifted and versatile artist who could do it all, and do it all incredibly well. Personally, she'll be cherished as a wife and mother, and a devoted, giving, treasured -- and irreplaceable -- friend. I know I have to accept that she's gone -- but I still can't believe it.
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