Arianna said it just right... heartbroken... in DC. What do you do when your friend Nora Ehpron dies? You cry and then you write about it. Because that is what she said to do whenever you told her a story that moved her or amused her. "Write about it" she'd say. It was like Beethoven telling you to play a symphony or Billie Jean King telling you to serve the ball or Springsteen telling you to rock. She was the best of the best and when she said, "write" she was telling you to engage in the noblest pastime she knew. Because when Nora wrote -- or when she read something that someone else wrote that she appreciated -- she shared it all. Not just wisdom or amusement, but vulnerability combined with self-awareness that gave permission to the world to do big, crazy, passionate things. Fall in love, raise your game, change the world, slap back at the Republicans -- do it all, but do it all with self-effacing charm and a self-assurance that people will notice.
Nora said things that most people thought. I remember countless moments discussing politics when her simple questions about why politicians were so mostly phony made so much sense that I wouldn't have a response. I debate politics for a living and yet with Nora, it was harder. Because she held them to a standard that most people who love politics don't ever do. Her insight and cynicism about politicians was of the sort that when people feel like she does, they turn away. But Nora leaned in. She wasn't going to let anyone of the hook by dismissing her questions as cynical. That was too dismissive. And Nora wouldn't be dismissed.
Whether it was writing about Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Barack Obama. I think that those of us at The Huffington Post who worked with Nora during the 2008 campaign saw everything just a little bit differently because she was there. A little more illuminated yet a little more practical.
I remember her calling me one day to talk about why politicians were so afraid of the gay issue. Democrats and Republicans alike pretended, she said, that it was about religion or morality or politics when it was about people. People she loved and who loved her. She truly couldn't wrap her head around cowardice from leaders she otherwise had admired. And cowardice is what she called it. I tried to push back a little -- as I did sometimes -- to explain the politician mindset for caution to a woman who already knew it. (Thank god the president has since been a true champion -- because disappointing Nora would be a terrible thing.)
Whether it was brunching in the sun in East Hampton or in a café in LA, a meal with Nora was really always the best treat in life. She listened, she probed, she gave motherly advice, and she laughed. And if you could bring a wry smile or a chuckle to her or better yet cause the big cackle laugh to the best and funniest story telling writer in the world, your life was made. My heart goes out to her family who she loved beyond and beyond. I can hardly imagine this world without a continuing stream of Nora Ephron's conscience but am so grateful that we have such a rich treasure trove from the life she already lived.
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