Going into yesterday, I really didn’t think there was anything else written about Steve Jobs and his death that I cared to read, other than Walter Issacson’s biography of him. I was kind of all Steve Jobs death-ed out, to be honest, so it wasn’t until about 100 or so of the people I follow on Twitter tweeted links out to Mona Simpson’s eulogy for her brother printed in the New York Times that I actually clicked through to read it. Once I did, however, I saw what all the fuss was about. The whole thing is simply beautiful — beautiful enough to defy just about any level of Steve Jobs death fatigue, I think.
In particular, people were buzzing, for good reason, about Simpson’s description of Jobs’ final moments as a living being, which she took part in after she was summoned by Steve to fly to Palo Alto once it became clear he was near the end. She writes:
When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.
Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.
Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.
His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.
This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.
He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.
Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.
He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.
This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.
He seemed to be climbing.
But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.
Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.
Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.
Steve’s final words were:
OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.