A couple weeks ago I returned to my hometown in order to attend a friend’s graduation, held at a college we were able to attend while in high school. This was thanks to the partnership the two schools had. Anyway, I had gone to the ceremony to cheer on my friend but also in hopes of running into an old professor that had greatly motivated me during her classes. So, as the ceremony began, I flipped through the program I was given at the entrance. As I reached the end of the faculty list, though, I found “in memoriam Catherine Webster”. My heart froze and I felt chills run up and down my back. I was instantly saddened.
The following day I did an online search on her, and after a while of fruitless searching, I finally found a small article regarding her passing on The Record’s website. It never specified the cause of death, only that she passed May 31st, 2012. Just sixteen days before the graduation. Ms. Webster had been a great teacher, quirky but not in a negative way. She was strict, demanding when it came to written assignments, but also patient and understanding. The funny thing is, I disliked her the first time I met her. I was only a sophomore in high school and disliked how she had criticized my writing. However, after taking her classes years later, I realized that she was right. I had been wrong. She even apologized for what she had said to me years ago, during the last day of her Written Communications course. I was shocked, and then thankful because criticism or not, she had been the first writer to acknowledge my work.
What frustrated me then was the fact that I could barely find any information on her online, and anything I did find was simply mirroring the same bio found on the back of her collection of poems, The Thicket Daybreak (University Press of Colorado Fort Collins, 1997). It’s a sobering thing because, as a writer, it makes me realize that I may very well face a similar end. I will die and leave a small mark behind, I just hope that I am able to inspire others like she did me before I go. This is the wish of many writers I believe, to be remembered and to inspire others, because that is what made us in the first place. This generation of writers stemmed from the last. Like Natalie Goldberg said in her Old Friend from Far Away “What a writer really does is fall in love with another author and read everything he or she has written. In doing so, you realize your own soul and the author’s are akin. It makes you want to communicate outwardly, to share your own feelings and observations back” (pg. 25). So, rest in peace Ms. Webster, and thanks a lot for being so tough on me. I needed it.