A quick background; I am an atheist and know now that I always was. But there was a stage in my teens when the notion scared the shit out of me. I couldn't accept that there was "nothing" out there, or any purpose to life/the universe/everything, but I also couldn't accept that there was a sentient being in charge or some mystical energy binding us together. I was a bit spiritually lost, to put it simply. My parents are atheists too but I wanted to work out my position on my own, lest I be accused of just copying them. I read a lot about magic, vampirism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Paganism, Gnosticism, Druidism - anything I could get my hands on. But none of it helped, as I never thought any of them were coming close to "reality" (as I perceived it). None of them felt right. Then I came across atheist writings and among them was Christopher Hitchens. It was a revelation. I realised I wasn't alone, nor the first to question the reality of religion and the nature of faith. They were asking the same questions I was asking. They (and all the science related stuff I read and watched) led me to have an epiphany that there didn't have to be a point to the universe, there didn't have to be a reason for my existence, per se. I could instead create my own purpose, my own reason for living. For me, that was an incredibly freeing moment and I've never looked back.
I was already an atheist, but those writers allowed me to articulate why. Hitchens was one of a small group willing to be unpopular, prepared to say things no one wanted to hear. I turned away from him and Dawkins over the years, as I have no bug bear with those who have faith, and I found their constant attacks on those with faith tiresome and their attitudes were far too morally superior for my tastes. However I appreciate and admire them for showing me that there was another way, as well as showing me that it is possible to agree and disagree (vehemently!) with someone's opinions at the same time.
I know Mr. Hitchens isn't aware of this, or looking down from on high (unless he got a VERY big surprise) but nonetheless: RIP.