When you read as a child, there are no lines between you and what you read. Those stories become as much a part of you as the times you stubbed your toe, or rode your bicycle, or caught fireflies on a lazy summer night.
Were I to lay back in the tall grass one afternoon, and close my eyes, and tell you the first ten stories that came to mind that I had read when young, at least half would be his. Probably more. I reread The Martian Chronicles annually. I read everything else I have of his as the mood strikes me, and the mood strikes with some regularity. I will, once I’ve finished this post, sit down and read one of his stories to my children.
It is not loss I am feeling in thinking of him. It is deep and utter gratitude at the stories he gave us, and the way they shaped me–as a reader, as a writer, as a person.