Steve Jobs: iSad.

On Wednesday, the news came as complete shock. My boyfriend and I were getting ready to turn on one of our favorite shows, when he opened the internet browser on the computer just for a minute. Across the top was a bar:

BREAKING: Steve Jobs died.

He read it aloud to me, “Steve Jobs died.”

In that exact moment, my stomach dropped and I felt an aching feeling run through my entire body. Then there was shock. “What?!” was all I could say. But then again, we all knew of his public battle with such a deadly form of cancer, and the fact that he had so recently stepped down from his title at the company he started literally from nothing.

But that sickness I felt was just that — sickness. Like I was going to throw up. As a former roommate of mine put it when I told her the news of her ex-boyfriend passing, “I know how you upset you get about death, and I hope you’ll be okay.”

When she told me those words, it was like my exact feelings that I had never spoken aloud to anyone were finally verbalized. I do get upset about death. Especially when it is someone that I know, or even once knew. But truthfully, what upsets me the most about death, as a Christian, is feeling absolutely helpless just knowing (or believing, rather) where that person could be, forever.

I have never considered myself a judgmental person, despite my Christian beliefs, that are often mistaken by others for nothing other than judgment. I have always tried my hardest to listen to everyone, and take in what they say. If I meet someone who has different beliefs than me, I ask questions, I listen, and I try to understand where they are coming from. Because the truth is, we all believe what we believe for a reason. Everyone has gone through different experiences in their lives to shape them into who they are today. So, if you tell me that you don’t believe that God exists, I respect that, and honestly want to hear your story. There is no right or wrong with religion–because the fact is true for everyone: we all think that we are right.

And maybe we are. Maybe Christians are right. Maybe Atheists are right. Maybe Buddhists are right. The truth is: no one knows who is right or wrong as long as we live on this earth. So I can sit here and tell you until I take my last breath on this earth that Christianity is the only “right” in this world, but honestly I will not know until I die. We all hope that we are right, but we also have to acknowledge that someone will be wrong, but at that point, it is “too late” because we are dead. And no one can come back after they die, so who knows?

So, back to Steve Jobs. When I heard of his death, immediately, I was sick. (I guess I’ve established that three times now.) Because to me, as a Christian, learning about the death of someone that is so publicly a believing and practicing Buddhist, makes me so sad. It makes me upset. It makes me angry. It makes me mad. And in that moment, all I can do is what I believe is right–pray. Pray that God somehow intervened in Steve’s finally weeks, days, or hours. Maybe that he sensed the end was coming for him, and realized that forever is just that–for ever. And once you die, that’s it. There is no second chance.

Perhaps you understand the one statement that I am skating around but will not say publicly because those don’t share the same beliefs as me may get upset, but hopefully you do understand what I am saying. And when you stop and think about it–that one statement–it is absolutely, undeniably, ridiculously terrifying.

There’s one thing that we all can agree on despite our religious beliefs and differences: Steve Jobs was the definition of brilliance. He was undoubtedly blessed. (In my opinion of course), the Lord blessed him with an amazing, literally one-of-a-kind mind that was capable of so much success. The reason I am able to type all of these words out right now on a laptop is because of that man and his brain. He transformed so much of our world and I believe he absolutely deserved his success. The Lord does not choose to bless all of us with a mind like Steve Jobs, but He blesses each of us in other ways. (For me, I like to think that He blessed me with writing, but that remains to be seen!)

What saddens me to the extreme about Steve, and again I am not judging when I say this but am merely making an observation, is that I wish so badly that he could have credited God for his success. That maybe he could have believed that none of what he did would have been possibly without Him, because God made him that way for a reason. But of course, not everyone thinks that way, but I ultimately wish that he could have attested his brilliance to God. If that were the case, I don’t think I would have felt so sick learning about his death.

Regardless of Steve’s beliefs, or spirituality, or personal life, he is still a person. He is still a human being. And he is still a life. I feel a huge weight of sadness for his wife, who is now a widow (at a relatively young age), and for his four precious children who now have to live their rest of their lives without a father. It is a tragic story no matter which angle it is viewed — Christians, Atheists, Buddhists, Agnostics. No matter what, this brilliant man has left this earth way too soon.

Maybe he is right. Maybe he died, and his family is at peace with his death because he will be reborn into another being, such as an animal. Maybe others are right and he died, and he’s just … gone. Maybe Christians are right and he stood before God (our ultimate and only Judge) and was asked why he should be allowed into His eternal kingdom. Whatever the case, we have lost someone who has changed technology and the world as we knew it; we have lost a human being who has done so much good; we have lost a person with a beautiful and now grieving family; and we have lost someone who will continue to inspire me, to truly never give up on your dreams.

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Only the good die young (playing now ironically)

Death always effects me in a strange way. I am usually plagued and haunted by it for weeks after I find out that someone that I knew, or even just knew of, dies so suddenly.

On Saturday night around midnight, I was laying in bed watching television when my roommate texted me from the other side of the apartment saying, “Are you still awake? Curtis Shepherd died.” My reaction was the same, immediate one of everyone else, “Oh my gosh, what?!”

Curtis attended high school with us in a small town outside of Tampa, Florida. He was president of the student body our senior year and was the drum major senior year as well. He had been dating a beautiful and sweet girl, Veronica, since they were both 15. He was one of those people that everyone knew of, but not everyone actually knew him. However, I knew he was a “good catch” so to speak and had so, so much going for him. He was one of the elite few in our graduating class who applied to the elusive UF and actually got in. Imagine that!

But this last week I have been carrying around this weight of sadness for not only his family dealing with his sudden death, but for precious Veronica. His obituary said that they were engaged. He graduated summa cum laude from UF just five days before he died. Had a job he accepted with Exxon-Mobil. Now, that’s all gone. My heart has been piercing for Veronica everyday. The truth is, I really cannot imagine what she going through right now, especially to have lost him so suddenly in such a freakish way.

I hate thinking about what his last moments were like–if he slipped and fell off the boat, if someone accidently pushed him, if he was leaning over and leaned too far–whatever the case, I pray that he fell suddenly and died hitting his head, not fighting for his life underwater with no way out. I hate thinking of how panic-stricken his friends who were on the boat must have been when it happened. I hate thinking about how much agony they must have been in for almost seven hours while they searched for his body. And I hate thinking about his loved ones seeing his body in a casket not even a week later.

I also don’t like how death effects me. Though I know that when I die, I will be absent from the body and present with the Spirit immediately, I don’t like thinking about how I, or anyone I care about deeply, is going to die. And when I find out that someone I once knew (in any capacity) has died, it gives me a weird feeling inside. Then I feel this overwhelming burden of pain for those that are directly affected by this person’s death. I know I shouldn’t feel this way for people because it’s almost like an unnecessary burden, but I do feel this way and I wish desperately there were some magic words I could say to help them, but there are none.  When someone dies, it’s interesting how people always say such wonderful things and so willing to help those directly affected. It’s interesting because people always say the greatest things about that person and offer such words of encouragement, and though to me, as an outsider only affected “ripply” I’d like to think, these words are comforting, I know it’s can only do so much for others.

My point for all of this is to say that I feel tremendous pain for those close to Curtis. I am praying for them daily, aching with them imagining their pain, and wish this didn’t have to happen. But God has a plan, from the beginning of time, to the beginning of Curtis’ life, until his last hour, He knew it was Curtis’ time. It is comforting to know that God controlled this situation, He allowed it to happen, and He has a purpose. That will never bring him back to his parents or back to Veronica, but I pray they know God is sovereign. There is hope in terrible situations, because God never leaves us.

“Precious in the sight of the Lord are the death of His saints.” -Psalm 116:15