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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Friends We Never Meet

I have so many things I'd like to say about last night's news. So many people with a more direct connection to Steve Jobs are saying their piece right now that my saying anything at all feels a bit silly.

So be it. I'll keep this short.

My connection was nearly life long — 30+ years — but very indirect. I saw him in person once, but never met him. My first mac was a 512 Ke in late 1985 or early 86, but I fell in love with the 128 when I saw it at a computer store sometime in 1984. MacPaint was on the screen, and someone had drawn an elephant.

For years I'd been programming in basic on a TI 99/4A, then on various Commodores. Seeing my first mac was like... something from the future. Mind boggling, even for an eleven year old.

Anyway, we all knew this day was coming. For most, since the the resignation in August. For others, since the WWDC. That was mine. I'd been watching his stick figure's shaky walking on the stage for at least an hour, saddened at how thin (gaunt) he was…

Then came the moment that told me he was resigned and knew his end was coming. He was talking about how much he loved the company he had built, and his voice cracked, and his eyes got shiny, and he looked very old and frail and sad.

I've watched people — friends — die from cancer. It's horrible. And I saw in his face that he knew, just like they knew.

There's so much more I'd like to say. Comparisons with exceptional people I respect from history and how rarely and brightly their lights shine, so rarely that we can name many of them even hundreds or thousands of years later. Or the fleeting nature of life, and how important it is that we do our best with what time and resources we have.

But mostly, since I learned in a text message from Corinne that "Steve Jobs died", I've been thinking about friends we never meet. People we interact with every day but in a very one-sided way, and how they can be important to us without them ever knowing it.

And how it hurts to lose them, even if they were never really there.


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