I live in the world of technology — whether I like it or not (but I do). When you are married to a techhead and have three teenage boys, your life is filled with contraptions, gadgets and gizmos. Technology is a big part of our everyday lives and Apple products make up a large part of that. Our house was saddened by the news last night of Steve Jobs passing from this life. Not surprised, but still saddened.

Why is it that we were so sad about someone that we never met? I have no personal ties to Steve Jobs, other than the devices that his company invented which are integrated into our house and our lives, yet we were very sad, quiet and reflective last evening. I think that such a public death is a reminder that life is finite for all of us — death does not discriminate between the rich and the poor, the famous and the unknown, the haves and the have-nots. One day, all of us will share the same fate. The question of course is whether in those minutes and seconds before we take our last breath, we can look back with a smile or with regret.

In Jobs’ own words, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

In the wake of the announcement of his death, the world has been buzzing about Steve’s legacy. The imprint he has left on technology. It is without a doubt that his vision and demand for perfection has changed our lives forever. In addition to the Apple products that we are all too familiar with — the Mac, the Ipod, the Ipad and the Iphone there are those that are lesser known but still a part of our electronic lives — the trash can, the pull down menu, the menu bar and even the mouse.

Steve Jobs loved what he did and he stated so in no uncertain terms —

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Yet, he knew what was important in his life and that is the lesson that we must take away from his passing. The lesson that can make us all a little stronger and a little wiser.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

The person that we saw portrayed so prevalently in the media was fiercely protective of the intimate aspects of his personal life.  A neighbor of his, Lisen Stromberg expressed it perfectly when she stated in her blog back in August:

In time, things changed. The walks were less frequent, the gait slower, the smile not so ready. Earlier this year when I saw Steve and his wife walking down our street holding hands, I knew something was different. Now, so does the rest of the world.

While Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal and CNET continue to drone on about the impact of the Steve Jobs era,  I won’t be pondering the MacBook Air I write on or the iPhone I talk on. I will think of the day I saw him at his son’s high school graduation. There Steve stood, tears streaming down his cheeks, his smile wide and proud, as his son received his diploma and walked on into his own bright future leaving behind a good man and a good father who can be sure of the rightness of this, perhaps his most important legacy of all.

I must agree with Lisen, I think that when you boil Steve Jobs down, he was just another man — who loved his job and evidently his family and was gifted with his technological vision and expertise, but nonetheless basically no different from any one of us. In my opinion, and from what I’ve read about his personal life, I think that if you asked him, Steve Jobs’ greatest legacy was not the devices for which he will be remembered but rather  — it was the children and love of his life, Laurene that stood with him and around him as he took his final breaths in this life and defended his privacy and his dignity to the very end.

Photo: Lea Suzuki - San Francisco Chronicle

Lea Suzuki, a photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle took this photograph after one of the recent Apple Product announcements. On the cusp of my own 20th year of marriage, the photograph is very telling and speaks a million words about the very private Steve Jobs and his relationship with his wife, Laurene.

His family’s loss is immeasurable. While the world lost a computer icon, they lost a husband of twenty years, a best friend and a father.

Condolences to the Jobs Family. Know the world aches with you in your time of grief.

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