I was in North Carolina last week when I pulled up the New York Times home page and saw that Steve Jobs had died. I don't know why I was so shocked. I'd seen the photos of the man from his last appearance in June, and I'd written about his resignation from Apple in August, and you didn't have to be a genius to do the math.
For some reason, I just can't seem to shake this death off as being just that of another famous person I'd never met. I'm quite sure much of it is that Steve Jobs was only four months older than I am, and when you start seeing your own birth year as the first of the two dates in obituaries and tombstones, it drives home your own mortality in a way nothing else really does. But there's something heartbreaking about seeing a guy who from all indications did everything right with his health, was a vegan, a Zen Buddhist, had access to the best medical care, and died of one of the more horrific cancers anyway.
Yesterday I was reading Newsweek's coverage online, because I think someone at the postal service took my print copy (something that happens every time there's a particularly interesting cover story.) I happened upon this photograph of Steve Jobs with his wife Laurene:
...and just completely lost it.
Again, not sure why, except that it's easy to pore over the many photographs of the smartypants college dropout, the young executive with his Macintosh, and the many, many photos of the cool guy inveiling his latest cool gadget, even as the trajectory of those images is to watch the man fade away. But I think what this photograph drove home is that there was a Steve Jobs we never considered. We knew about the pregnant ex-girlfriend he'd abandoned and his role as deadbeat dad. But what we never, ever saw that this wasn't just the guru of techniks everywhere, but also a man who grew, matured, and became a devoted husband and father. It depicts a side of this man that the world never saw, because he guarded it so ferociously.
That he WAS so private, even as he was so public, makes it doubly appalling that some on the right have decided that since Steve Jobs was adopted, it makes him the perfect poster child for a movement which assumes that all women who have abortions decide to do so as blithely as they would decide to have a pedicure and go out for a nice lunch. They're dragging out the "What if Steve Jobs' mother had aborted him?" canard. We've seen this before, in the context of President Obama; the assumption being that every woman who decides that for good reason she just can't have a child right now, is carrying the next Steve Jobs or Barack Obama; never conceding that a woman could instead be carrying Jeffrey Dahmer or Adolf Hitler. It's something they never had the gall to do when Jobs was alive, but now that he's gone and can't rebut them, he's fair game.
This morning as I drove to work, I passed by a Verizon Wireless store that had about fifty people waiting outside. At first I thought it was another strike, until I realized that these people were waiting outside at seven AM on a Friday morning to buy the new iPhone; to have in their possession the last phone blessed in person by Steen Paul Jobs. AAPL closed today at $422 a share, up $13.57.
Life goes on.