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Today I am sad. I didn’t know that when watching Nora Ephron on Morning Joe last year that we would soon be saying farewell to a legend. Straight forward, insightful and able to capture real emotions in a way that very few story tellers ever accomplish. Nora Ephron cemented herself in American literary history as a true and constant friend of the mission to tell and reveal the American story. She captured the range of emotional depth and humanity in each character that she wrote.

 Heartburn – 1986 

I was a zygote when this movie came out of course, but this had to have been my first introduction to one of Ephron’s movies. Being a child raised in a single parent home, a child of divorce in the 1980’s, this was the first movie that encapsulated the experience of what I believed my Mom actually went through when falling in love then subsequently falling into divorce with my Dad. By the time they separated my Mom, although not a Stay-At-Home Mom, just had my baby brother, was on the way to purchasing a home and beginning what she thought was going to be a new and wonderful representation of her American Dream. That didn’t happen. What did happen of course was the start of a far too common American experience, of having to figure out and sort through a new reality. I was only three when my parents divorced and my brother a new-born, so we had no real emotional associations to pull from of either the marriage nor the divorce. We only knew life with Mom and Grandmother in the household, but we were aware of the undertone of loss in the house. Something always felt as though it were missing, then I saw Heartburn, and suddenly I had a point of reference.

I didn’t know then that in the movie Meryl Streep (the incomparable Meryl Streep), who plays Rachel Samstat was portraying Nora, and telling the story of Nora’s divorce to Carl Bernstein, portrayed by the brilliant Jack Nicholson whose character is Mark Forman. “I mean how awesome and cathartic is that, to have the power and creativity to put your EX and your pain, and your experience of tragic divorce on blast for all the world to see FOREVER?” Well I think it’s pretty damn cool, but more importantly, I’m sure that someone, somewhere once revealed to Nora the importance of that piece, unfortunately I wasn’t able to ever tell her just how much that movie meant to me.

I was however able to tell my Mom about it. I was able to say hey because of this movie, I think I understand better what you, personally as a woman, went through. I was just a kid at the time when I first saw the movie, but since then I think I made it a point to re-visit the movie at different periods throughout my life so that I could get at the broader perspectives that were inevitably lost on me during more naive stages of my life. Now being a married woman with a child I know that the story stays in the back of my mind and in some ways had even helped to shape some weird picture of marriage and divorce that is also connected to my own feelings and broader understanding of my parents divorce. I’m not damaged from either, I feel I do need to say, but any opportunity to fully understand someone else’s experience especially if it’s your own Mother, is a rare and special one and we should all seek to understand what we’re all going through on this journey. So I thank Nora for telling her truth and through it unknowingly revealing one which is apart of my own journey. 

After much self-inflicted long-suffering, with struggling to discover and bring forth my own life passions, I identified Nora as someone I wished to model my career. After learning more about her personal life, I hope to live with as much fearless passion, and curiosity as she had. I hope to seek truth and reveal humanity in story telling. Maybe one day I’ll be fortunate enough to unknowingly reach the heart of others through the stories that I tell. I am sure that if her life is the one that I use as a model then I can’t go wrong. Thank you Nora for using your gift and giving this writer a truthful platform to use as the standard 😉


Madison Kelly