Monday, August 11 turned out to be one of those days where everyone, no matter where they were or what age, paused to read the same headline news all at once — and were all equally stunned and saddened by it.
Robin Williams — Oscar-winning actor, lovable comic genius, dad of three and all-round great guy by most accounts — has died, at just 63 years old. But the news that came next was even more shocking: The suspected cause of death was suicide by asphyxiation.
He had left behind a wife of just three years, Susan, and three grown children — Zach, 31, Zelda, 25, and Cody, 23. But he'd also left behind a world full of devoted fans, who suddenly realized in his death how close they truly felt to him.
Immediately, the twitterverse erupted in an outpouring of grief, as everyone from fans to celebs shared their shock and disbelief over how such a talented, universally loved and unbelievably uplifting person could take his own life.
From Hollywood, came a flood of tweets from his heartbroken friends and costars.
A tweet cannot begin to describe the hugeness of Robin Williams heart and soul and talent. This is so sad. #RobinWilliams
It wasn't long before President Obama released his own statement on the news, which spoke for us all.
Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most -- from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.
In Boston, grieving fans gathered by the bench where his character sat in "Good Will Hunting," and scrawled some of his most memorable lines across the pavement.
Meanwhile, trending on Twitter last night, was Williams' famous quote from 1989's "Dead Poet's Society" — #OhCaptainMyCaptain.
The grief over his loss is widespread, spanning generations. But perhaps that's no surprise. In a career that stretched across nearly four decades, Williams had managed to touch us all in roles that embraced both the dark and the light. Our parents remember him best as Mork the alien, from "Mork and Mindy." But for the younger generations, we grew up with him both on the big screen and in our living rooms, as we wore out our VHS player watching his lovable Genie from "Aladdin" and of course the hilarious, unparalleled, one-of-a-kind Mrs. Doubtfire.
As we got older, he kept us entertained with offbeat roles in films like "Patch Adams," and had us crying (and laughing) throughout 1997's Academy Award darling, "Good Will Hunting."
A scroll through Williams' Instagram posts will only plummet you further into sadness. His personal photos were both touching and comical — just like the man himself.
There was this Throwback Thursday photo posted just last month, as the star celebrated his daughter Zelda's twenty-fifth birthday.
And a snapshot from the star's own birthday on July 21, when he posed with a smiling monkey named Crystal.
Early reports have suggested that Williams had been battling severe depression as of late, which he has struggled with off and on, along with chemical addiction. The star had even checked himself into rehab in Minnesota last month for some "maintenance" on what has otherwise been 20 years of successful sobriety, but it seems his time there wasn't enough.
"This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings." said Williams' wife, Susan Schneider, in a statement. "I am utterly heartbroken."
Later that night, his daughter Zelda shared her own heartfelt message to her dad on Twitter, along with a quote from Antoine De Saint-Xupery. "You — you alone will have the stars as no one else has them ..." she wrote. "In one of the stars, I shall be living. In one of them, I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night ... You — only you will have stars that can laugh."
She finished her post with a few simple words of her own, writing, "I love you. I miss you. I'll try to keep looking up, Z."