Like a lot of people, he was, in no small way, an inspiration for me when I was a child -- if not directly, then by proxy. I remember watching a live broadcast of a shuttle liftoff as a kid and thinking to myself, "That might be me one day." There's something powerful about that kind of reaction, of believing you can do something -- that you should do something. Health conditions made sure I would never be an astronaut, but the world Armstrong created by putting his feet into the fine dust of the Moon was one that made me long to go up there and carve out a piece of history for myself, however small. Perhaps that explains my obsession with space, and not just science fiction. It explains my desperate desire to go up there one day, even if only for a few moments. To feel space in my own way. To feel like I'm a part of some grander human experience. Armstrong made all of that possible.
And in a weird way, I thought he would always be here. I know that's insane, since we all must die. He was 82, after all; he lived a lot of years. But he was supposed to be there like some kind of great father, to watch over us as we journeyed further and further out there, to be there for us with all his wisdom. The world does not feel right without him -- cannot feel right. There's an emptiness now. We've lost a human being who meant so much to so many. A man who took us where no humans had ever been before, who uttered a line that will echo throughout history forever: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Sleep well, hero.