Leonard Nimoy died last week at age 83. Even non-Trekkies may recognize Nimoy from his iconic role as Dr. Spock in the original Star Trek series. Losing Nimoy today is like losing Spock all over again. And losing Spock is like losing a mentor, a protector, and a friend.

Every nerdy kid could identify with Spock in some way. Every socially awkward teen who couldn’t master the skills of basic human interaction could relate to Spock’s Vulcan indifference. Every geeky know-it-all could relate to Spock’s relentless logic. Every prepubescent with an obviously awkward body feature could at least relate to Spock’s ears. Trekkies found a kindred spirit in part human, part Vulcan. We loved Spock because he made us feel like being different from the norm made us essential to an intelligent, exciting future.

I realize Star Trek is not real but because of his role on the sci-fi show, Leonard Nimoy inadvertently became the spokesman for nerddom. Both on and off camera, Nimoy taught us how to live a prosperous life. He was loyal to his fans and his crew of co-stars. He made sacrifices of himself for others. He struggled against temptations and addictions and before the end, he overcame them. Leonard Nimoy showed the world that vulnerability does not equate to weakness. So even though the show was science fiction, because of both Nimoy and Spock, we know anything can be possible.

Leonard Nimoy was and will forever be the representative of the outsiders, of the weird, of the intelligent, and of the Trekkies. Because he was Spock, we got to know and appreciate him for his acting and contribution to art. Because he was Spock, generations of nerds felt like we finally had a kindred soul. Because he was Spock, we realized that we are enough, just the way we’re made.

Leonard Nimoy, thank you for sharing your gift with the generations. You lived long and because you were Spock, we can all prosper.