06/27/2012 02:34 pm ET Updated Aug 27, 2012

FACE IT: On Not Being Nora Ephron

Like everyone else who was lucky enough to come into contact with Nora Ephron, I am recalling those moments today. I occasionally asked her for quotes for articles and used every single one, thank you. But it's the rare personal exchanges that I remember most vividly.

The first time I met her at a friend's party, she noticed I was pregnant and asked if I had a babysitting service. When I said no and that I was relatively new to New York, she insisted I write down a phone number then and there. "That's Sheila," she said, '"and she's all you will need." For the next three years, Sheila never failed me once. A few months later, we happened to share a box at a tennis match. I told her I was nervous because I was leaving my baby for a whole day for the first time. "What's the worst that could happen?" she responded, "She'll cry for five straight hours." Somehow, that put me at ease.

Another time, I mentioned to Nora that I had been asked to write a piece about growing up at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club. I knew her screenwriting parents had been members as well, and wondered what she thought about when forced to reflect on the club. She thought, smiled and replied, "fried rice." Immediately, I thought back on how we could hardly wait for every Tuesday, when the chef would make that delectable bowl of brown rice with chopped tomatoes, green onions and sliced turkey on top. We drenched it with soy sauce and ended up licking our fingers. Why hadn't I thought of that?

Which pretty much sums up life as Not Being Nora Ephron. Like legions of other female writers, I was constantly envious of, and amazed by, her productivity and ability to get right to the heart of a subject with wit and perception. It seemed every time a creative idea was in the air, she was the one to bring it to the forefront. Very simply, I always assumed I would be Nora Ephron -- until I realized there already was one.

Not only did she write better than the rest of us, she apparently excelled in every important aspect of life. I consider myself a damn good friend, but I am here to admit she was obviously a better one. I wouldn't trade my circle for any -- except hers. I throw good dinner parties; hers were obviously stellar. And she did her own cooking!

So how did all the rest of us handle Not Being Nora Ephron? Speaking for myself, I knew one option was to hide under the covers every time she turned out a lovely piece of work about something I may have thought about myself. I wisely knew when not to even consider competing; I recall working on a poem for a friend's anniversary -- until I realized Nora would be there and likely have a toast of her own. Mine went right into the trash can.

The other option for me -- and all my fellow non-Noras -- was to do our best to emulate her in her obvious joys in all things professional and personal. We, too, could try to find new ways to turn heartbreak into hilarity -- if not key lime pie recipes. We, too, could try to be that witty woman at the table full of men. We, too, could turn rejection into begrudging and bemused acceptance.

The last time I saw her was at a friend's 50th birthday party. She came around to every table with camera in hand, taking all our pictures. I may have thought to myself, 'that's nice, she'll have some memories of this great event.' A few weeks later, the birthday girl received a beautiful photo album capturing that evening. Why hadn't I thought of that?

The only thing worse than Not Being Nora Ephron is not having her around anymore.