Wednesday, June 27, 2012


It’s always been Kathleen Kelly.

She taught me how to dress, how to be kind yet firm, how to be funny. Because of her, I read Pride and Prejudice and fell in love with Elizabeth Bennett. I got my first AOL account, and I still associate the name Kimberly with cocktail waitresses. Daisies are my favorite flower, and whenever autumn rolls around, I always want to buy school supplies.

When I was 13, I saw You’ve Got Mail for the first time, and I realized what I wanted to be when I grew up. I realized it was okay to like books; it was okay to fail and to close up shop; it was okay to recreate your dreams and start over and try again. I watched that movie — the first “grown-up” movie I’d ever seen — and it forever set the high standard for movies starring, for, and about women.

Kathleen Kelly of the little bookstore taught me a lot, and I owe her creation and the words of her mouth to Nora Ephron.

Ms. Ephron passed away yesterday, and I feel like someone punched me in the gut.

I’m sure there will be countless memorials all over the Internet today, most, if not all, of them better than mine.

But I remember the first time I saw Sleepless in Seattle, remember the first moment I realized I could quote You've Got Mail in its entirety (including song lyrics). I remember sneaking to watch When Harry Met Sally, long before I even knew what Meg Ryan was doing in that scene in the deli, remember my brother bringing me a bouquet of sharpened pencils for Valentine’s Day. I remember crying in the theatre watching Julia Child open her newly published cookbook in Julie & Julia. I remember the night I went to the Hoover Public Library, trying to work on my honors thesis, only to instead read a collection of Ephron’s essays in its entirety, laughing in the corner all by myself.

A lot of people can write and write well. But I feel like Ephron had a knack for brevity, had this ability, in one short sentence, to totally change a scene or make an essay.

This world has lost a lot of literary greats lately, and as the times change and paper fades away, I get a little nervous about what the future holds.

But then I think about Kathleen Kelly, how her world changed, how her livelihood changed, and yet it all worked out for the better.

Last night, as I fell asleep, I said a little prayer for Nora Ephron’s family, for their grief and their mourning. I thanked God for writers, for books, for words, and I prayed that heaven would still have all those things, so one day, I might be able to sit and laugh and have dinner with Nora. We would talk about the books and the city and the career she loved so much, and I think we’d have a pretty grand time.

image by George Rose, 1978


Anonymous said...

She was a blessing for the romantic spirit in all of us. Her legacy lives on in some wonderful movies and words. UR

Allie Buchnis said...

It's as if you took the words right out of my heart. Thank you for penning something so beautiful and true. Nora Ephron brought so much joy into our lives! I, too, loved and admired Kathleen Kelly - - You've Got Mail will forever be one of the greatest movies ever written. Thank you for your post! Blessings.

Rachel Reeves said...

I was at Disneyland, last evening, when I found out that Nora Ephron had passed.
Suddenly, it wasn't so happy, as I thought of KK and how she has popped into my mind, so often, in the past 10 years.

Leslie said...

Loved reading this, Annie. A lovely tribute. Now I really want to go watch You've Got Mail for the hundredth time and check out her book of essays from the library.

Brittany said...

I feel the same--such a sense of loss this morning. I'm so thankful for her and her words and her films.

Elizabeth said...

When I heard the news about her death this morning, I thought to myself; this is the saddest about "celebrity death" I have felt. She was wonderful, funny and smart. And she wrote girls/women that I loved, wanted to be and looked up to. I'm glad to know there are others who feel the same way about her that I do. It makes me hope that there will be others after her writing stories about girls just like me (or the me I pretend to be).

Laken said...

The aching of her death has stayed with me all night and today. I feel as though she was someone I knew personally, and now she's gone.

It sounds dramatic but I think that's what great writers do, though. They make themselves feel so real and so attainable to an audience, that the world becomes filled with people who want to be their best friend.

I think the world is filled with girls like us, who feel like Nora Ephron -- and Kathleen Kelly and Annie Reed -- could have been one of our closet friends.

Erin said...

I, too, think I realized what I wanted to be when I first watched Kathleen Kelly...not necessarily that I wanted to own a little shop like that (although that wouldn't be so bad), but that I wanted to be that kind of person.

mary kate said...

Kathleen Kelly has and always will be someone who taught me many things and if it weren't for Nora Ephron who knows what would have happened. I was telling my mom about her death this morning and spewing off all these new facts I had learned about her and I must admit she was not as upset or interested as I thought. I felt so lost/upset when I heard the news and am so glad there are others that feel the same way. Such a lovely post once again!

Erin said...

Okay, friend - I am sitting here all teary eyed. That was one of the most beautiful tributes ever. You are amazing and I think I just found my new favorite blog in yours :)