This is a letter I’ve been meaning to write for a long time now. I’ve jotted notes down on post-its, put ideas into the notepad on my iPhone and have gone over what I’d write when I finally put pen to paper in this open letter to you. And here it is, a day late and a dollar short. Like many people the whole world over, I felt that lump of sadness in my throat and the twinge in my stomach when the news broke. Of course we all knew you were sick, why else would you have stepped away from the helm of Apple? Yes, we knew your time on Earth was coming to a close. But, even so, the news of your death was still shocking.
Steve, you and I never met. We never shared a meal, or a laugh or an idea. But I felt like I knew you. You were Mr. Everyman who embraced your individuality and didn’t compromise even when faced with failure and disappointment. Your unwavering belief in Apple and the originality of the products you pioneered helped build an empire. One that I am sure will continue to shape the world in which we live in.
I remember the first time I saw an Apple computer. I was probably ten-years-old and recall an adult saying in the background “Apple is the next big thing!” Boy was that person right on the money. The Apple computer I’m conjuring up from the old days was big, clunky and ran okay. To my childish eyes it wasn’t anything impressive. That said, fast forward two decades and devices such as my iPhone and iPad have changed the way I socialize, the way I share memories, the way I write stories, the way I connect with my loved ones. Thanks to you, Steve, I was able to take 15 minutes of my lunch break today and sit in the stairwell at work and look my mother in the eyes and share a laugh with her and my Dad. They live half a world away, but for a short time it was like all the miles between us fell away. It was magic.
And it’s that magic, that power to connect that I think means the most to the bazillions of people who use Apple devices. If allowing people to connect is what you’re remembered for in the end, even more than the advances you made in technology, I’d be okay with that. I’m pretty sure you’d be chuffed with having that as your lasting legacy, too. Being able to bring pure joy to people by allowing them moments that would never have happened without an Apple product in their life is something to be super proud of.
And your story. I’ve watched your Stanford commencement speech from 2005 more times than I can count. I find your words, your memories and your revelations about how you found success in life to be so inspiring because you’re just like me. What I mean by that isn’t that you’re a 5’10” blonde with a penchant for carrot cake, rather that your story started as a typical one but grew into something extraordinary. I like that about you. Your humility. Your pride in what you did. The extreme happiness you got out of your work. And, most importantly, how you stuck to your guns no matter the pressure coming at you from all angles.
Then of course, came cancer. The bastard. Perhaps it came into your life to show us all that, no matter how amazing a man is and can become, he’s still just a man. But you were more than flesh and blood. You’ll go down in the annals of history as someone who left an indelible mark on advancements in technology and you shaped the ways in which human beings are able to communicate with each other. I still marvel at the fact that I can take a photo of my daughter on an outing in Auckland, upload it to Facebook and then share it to 500 friends and family. Without people like you in the world we’d all still be writing letters and sending them overseas by boat. But because people like you, Steve, have dared to push the proverbial envelope, we’re all better off for it.
I’m not sure what will come next in life or what the next “Big Thing” in technology will be. But I do know that I, along with many other people in the world, will be wondering “What would Steve have thought about this?”
So, Steve I’ll close this letter with an apology. I’m sorry it took so long for me to get around to writing to you. It just seemed an almost daunting task to create a letter befitting of a man who did so much to better the world. That, and I was sure your inbox would have been too full for you to have even noticed the words I’d penned.
Your family said in a statement today that you passed over to the other side (no, I don’t mean Microsoft) peacefully. I’m happy for that.
Rest in peace, Steve.