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Lisa Guest

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She Moved Me (Nora Ephron)

Posted: 07/05/2012 7:50 pm

I didn't relocate, or even change the direction of my chair to face another view.

I'm moved for many reasons because Channel 4 had such a touching remembrance of Nora Ephron. I don't usually watch Channel 4. I don't subscribe to cable at home, so I only had so many options with which to listen to the wisest minds decipher hers.

I loved hearing the reminder that both her parents were writers and she was told from a young age, "If you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you. If you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it's your joke." Her mother told her to always view everything that happened to her as something that, years later, she would look back upon with humor.

I listened to Channel 7 talk about her passing, both "World News" and "Nightline". The movie clips were different, but the message was very similar. Then I got to hear Martha Tichenor's piece on Channel 2 before Anne Thompson's piece at 15 minutes before the hour. After that, I turned off the tube. I could feel the emotions bubbling up within.

I was at the computer when news of her passing broke. I feverishly searched for the reason she died at the age of 71. In about ten minutes, I discovered she had acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with pneumonia. I've heard about AML. AML is a disease that is fairly easy for people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia to graduate into after treatment. CLL is chronic. AML is acute. I have the former. She had the latter. That piece of information got so immediately stuck in my throat that I had to call my mom and interrupt her during her dinner to share the news (my mom also has CLL and we've laughed through many of Nora's movies together). I had to talk it over, however briefly, with someone who knew what was screaming in my heart even if I used few words to describe it.

I'm moved because Nora, for all the success she had in the outer world, chose not to tell many about her disease.

I'm moved because she admitted that, to her, writing like breathing. If that's true, how did she not write about the diagnosis? How did she not tell those she'd laughed and worked with for decades that a tragedy was coming to give them the chance to say what they might want or need to say?

She did so much with her humor, her movies, her published pieces and other public performances such as graduation and award acceptance speeches. A friend gave me a fabulous essay Ephron had written in the New Yorker about money. When When Harry Met Sally was published, she finally had enough money to buy a certain Dogwood she'd wanted for decades and plant it in her yard. Nora seemed to make every subject come alive.

I hope she wrote something privately as she stepped ever closer to the end. I hope that its unearthed sooner or later. In her last book, she said she would miss her sons, her husband, the drive into Manhattan and pies after she passed.

Oh, I would have loved to know how Nora processed her pain, her fear, her sadness at having to say goodbye. I guess she did it by not saying it publicly before she had to go. Instead, she let her sudden absence say it all.

 

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