I wasn’t going to write about Steve Jobs because I knew there would be more than enough coverage on his untimely passing. But one particular post by John Gruber that I read this morning really put things in perspective. Read the short post here before reading on.

I found about it last night just after speaking on a panel about Facebook for Business and the announcement must have come sometime near the end of the panel as Twitter started going crazy. While everyone was schmoozing in the room I seemed to be the only person to check his twitter feed and became the bearer of bad news. Kerry actually hollered “NOOOOOO!” and Daniel Patricio told me that he would always remember the day Steve Jobs died because I was the one who told him.

The same way Daniel will remember Steve’s passing in this way I am reminded of a similarly shocking event: Michael Jackson’s passing in 2009. I’ll never forget it. I was sitting in my mom’s kitchen and my grandmother was visiting from over seas. Growing up I was a huge Michael Jackson fan and my grandma took many photos of me wearing the red leather jacket and rhinestone glove. She too was appreciative of Michael’s impact on music, on racial unity, and world pop culture, so I thought I would tell her that I heard MJ had died and her reply took me by surprise. She said “SO WHAT?! YOUR GRANDFATHER DIED TOO!!” Man, did I ever get messed up by her but her outburst was so profound too.  She didn’t have to explain it further, I understood. She had loved her husband for longer than most of us have been alive and then some. She never gave up on him even though Alzheimers had taken hold of him and he began to forget everything and everyone as his case got more and more severe. The patriarch of our family and her life partner had passed on and in comparison Michael Jackson’s passing was, well, unimportant. Her words were humbling and they were words of great wisdom and experience.

There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was an inspiration to many people around the world. My respect for him is immense, as I’m sure yours is too. He had great ideas and changed the way we live. That’s nothing to sneeze at.  However, he will be missed by his family and close friends in ways that none of the millions of mourners do now. Steve was a visionary, a leader, a game-changer, even a genius but I’ve never met him. Amirad-steve-jobsI never broke bread with him, laughed with him, cried with him and if he had lived and I had died, he would never have shed a tear nor would he have known. The only interaction, many times removed, that I’ve ever had with Steve is that I have used his products and read lots about him. My heroes are almost all dead too – Pierre Trudeau, Hunter S. Thompson, Lester Bangs, to name a few – and though I paid my respects to the first two (Lester died when I was 2 years old, so I didn’t know of him till much later), I never knew them. But I still weep for the heroes I knew, like my grandfather and my dad.

It is far better to celebrate the life and achievements of Steve as a symbol because what he did did have an impact on our world by way of his consumer goods and, for some, by way of the celebration and admiration of his passion and his support of innovation in the face of stagnation. If you read Apple’s old “Here’s to the crazy ones” manifesto you know what I’m talking about. I posted it above. But keep in mind that the ones who will really mourn him are the ones who knew him, the real him. He could have been the nicest person in the world or he could have been an egomaniac, but we’ll never know for sure. Steve Jobs spent his final moments with his family and friends who really knew him and that’s what’s important above all. When our time comes we can only hope that our final moments will be with those who love us.

With respect, Rest in peace, Mr. Steve Jobs.