"Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it." - Mona Simpson
"Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
rescue me from fires undying!" - Dies Irae
I hesitate to comment too freely about the death of any person, as dying is the greatest and most intimate trial that most people will ever endure. But I never cease to be amazed that not even death manages to humble the worldly. The one thing that is unmistakably, undeniably, unquestionably beyond man's ability to prevent - the eventual death of the body - must be considered as something "achieved" by a man who was, in this life, a great achiever. The brazen denial is stunning when you think about it.
"Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
all my shame with anguish owning;
spare, O God, thy suppliant groaning!"
Death is a punishment. Yes, death is also the gateway to eternal life, an inscrutable mercy, perhaps a moment of overwhelming grace, melting the heart and inciting contrition, turning the soul towards God - but it is a punishment first. Death is imposed on man, by God Himself, against man's natural will, as a punishment for sins original and actual. It cannot be "achieved" by man in any sense, except indirectly by breaking the Fifth Commandment, which is an easy thing for anyone sufficiently depraved - hardly another feather in any man's cap of worldly achievements.
Nothing reveals man's ultimate dependence and powerlessness like death. That is as it should be. The idea of man "achieving death" is outrageously arrogant. Unable to achieve physical immortality, despite great scientific and technological progress, in desperation modern man claims to achieve what his Creator has inexorably decreed. Without being too hard on Ms. Simpson in her mourning, let's hope that Steve Jobs achieved not his own death, but only a final "yes" to God - a surrender - and that his last words were uttered in awe at the divine mystery.