I haven’t wanted to write this post, because I didn’t want to believe that Cate was no longer with us on this mortal coil as of October 25. But Cate herself let us all know, in her own “Cate-ness” way, that it’s true.
I was not so fortunate to have met her in person, but I corresponded a bit with her via email. We e-chatted a bit about writing and our shared love of New Mexico.
I was born in Albuquerque, just north of the state’s center. Cate was from southern New Mexico, the Las Cruces area. We talked a bit about the magic of “place” in those few emails and the people who come to populate it, whether literal or metaphorical. We talked about New Mexico folklore and how stories come and go, and the ways they settle in the psyche.
I remember even through email, she gave me a sly Nuevomexicana wink, because we both knew what it was to come from desert and to take it with us always, no matter where we ended up.
Cate left us a marvelous legacy in the books we will still read, in the memories we all have of her, and the work she did outside of writing: teaching, working with homeless, inspiring others to live to their fullest potential with grace, humor both ribald and gentle, her saucy irreverence, and neverending kindness.
Cate, I wish you could see the evidence of the lives you touched and continue to touch. Or perhaps you did know. I’d like to think you did. I’d like to think that maybe, in some way, you still do.
For those of you who would like to see some of that evidence for yourselves, take a few moments to read the shared remembrances below of others who knew and loved her personally and/or knew and loved her work.
Bold Strokes Books tributes
Lee Lynch, “Cheeseburgers in Paradise: Cate Culpepper, 1957-2014”
Victoria Brownworth at Lambda Literary
Jove Belle, “A Brief Ode to the Amazon Queen”
D. Jackson Leigh, “O Captain, My Captain”
She is deeply missed, but we will all carry her forward in some way. Vaya con dios, Cate. Viajes seguros.