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Abby McMillen: Remember Bradbury

Posted: June 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 20, 2012 2:00 a.m.

 I remember the first time I met you. I had always worshipped you, but now I would stand across a table and actually speak to you. I knew what I would say. As I saw you, I remember feeling a hint of awe — yet a slight disappointment.

You were feeble. Old. And might I say persnickety? You couldn’t hear my voice, and your assistant quickly scooted me along after you signed my books. I got in line again, hoping to snatch a few more moments with my idol.

I had one more glimpse of you a few years later. This time, you were wheelchair-bound and even more hard-of-hearing. But I knew the real you. I still couldn’t talk to you — you couldn’t hear my voice — but I knew you. 

I knew I would cry the day you died. Like Don McLean’s song grieved the loss of America’s music, my heart would grieve the loss of America’s literary prophet.

There was nothing too difficult for you to write. You still communicate the incommunicable. You sing words in a language that can’t be translated. Your voice is so distinct that I would recognize it, even in a story or poem I had never before read.

Your words influenced me from the time my dad gave me “The Veldt” to read. I was hooked. From third grade onward, I couldn’t get enough of Ray. To date, I have more than 30 copies of your books, more than 10 of which you have personally touched and put your name in. There was never another in my heart.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read “Getting through Sunday Somehow.” You knew me — the harpist who somehow had become disconnected from my music. You knew me before I even knew me. And you knew the solution. Through your magic, I found my own.

You have often been described as being a science fiction writer. You know it’s untrue. Sure, you often wrote of the future and other science-fictionish topics, but that wasn’t you. You wrote about the condition of humankind. I reached the end of “The Martian Chronicles” and wept. Science fiction doesn’t do that.

Every time I stepped into a bookstore or library, I searched for you. I noticed less and less space seemed to be devoted to you. I mourned the apparent deterioration of your honor. Then, I discovered your poetry. A new world of Ray opened up at my feet. “We have our Arts so we won’t die of Truth” stated everything in my soul that I could never say.

So, what do I say today, knowing you are no longer here with us? I can only use your words to give you the honor you deserve.

“Though Monarch Worm devours our heart / With Yoricks mouth cry Thanks! to Art.”

You will live forever.

Abby McMillen is a Saugus resident.


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