I don't say this lightly: what Star Wars was for men and boys of a certain era (and believe me, I loved it, too), Ephron was for women and girls of that era.
When I got the premature call saying she had passed, I looked at my husband and said, "There's a disturbance in the Force." The world was less funny.
She was generous, gracious, hilarious and a huge help to those below her on the success and social ladder. She took criticism fairly, grudgingly admitting I might be right that the "Julia" part of her film Julia & Julia was infinitely deeper than the "Julie" part.
And in interviews, she reliably returned questions with a speed and spin that would make Venus Williams jealous. I never understood the reaction from hipster gals and most guys that her movies were slick Hollywood confections. To which I'd answer, "And what was Ernst Lubitsch?"
When the longtime New York Times film critic Vincent Canby cracked that Sleepless in Seattle was the movie you loved the night before and were embarrassed about the morning after, I called him—we didn't have email in 1993—and clucked, "You're just afraid that if you admit you like it, your manhood papers might get revoked." He laughed, saw it again, and admitted, "You know, it works."
The most important thing she taught me is that there's no use investing energy in fighting sexism. She believed the best revenge was putting that energy into your work.