What happens when your husband dies in an avalanche and then you marry his best friend? It’s a fascinating question that artist and writer Jennifer Lowe-Anker set out to answer in her 2009 book Forget Me Not.
Jennifer Lowe-Anker was married to the famous climber, Alex Lowe, and they had three sons together. When Alex had another really early morning departure for a climb in the Himalayas, she was so used to his extended trips, she didn’t even get out of bed to say “good-bye.”
That climb ended up being Alex’s last. He was out for a reconnoiter of the route with his best friend and fellow climbing superstar, Conrad Anker, and a filmmaker on the trip. They heard the crack of an avalanche letting loose above them and Alex and the filmmaker ran one way for the trees, Conrad ran the other way. The avalanche caught and buried Alex and the filmmaker. Despite the best efforts of Conrad and the rest of the team, they weren’t able to rescue them.
Jennifer Lowe-Anker writes beautifully about her journey through guilt and grief. And then as she comes through the worst of it, she falls in love with Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, Conrad Anker. Conrad has gone through his own journey of grief and survivor’s guilt after the loss of his best friend. Jennifer and Conrad end up getting married, and Conrad helps to raise Alex and Jennifer’s sons.
It was published by Mountaineers Books with a forward by Jon Krakauer (author of Into Thin Air and Into The Wild). Jennifer is a recognized artist in her own right and her now husband, Conrad Anker, is about as big of a climbing celebrity as you can get. Conrad has been in climbing movies like Meru, and Imax films. He was one of the climbers that found George Mallory’s body on Mt. Everest 75 years after Mallory went missing and was presumed dead. Talk about the needle in a haystack, a very dangerous haystack in this case.
Why am I thinking about this book? I was reminded of it the other day and I wondered, given all the celebrity and support, how the book has done. I looked on Amazon – it has 86 reviews and 283 ratings. It’s ranked as #583 in mountain climbing books, and #7,094 in Women’s Biographies.
It was a good reminder to me that not every book climbs to the top of the Best Seller list – even ones that are well-written and lauded and do respectably well. But it doesn’t make it any less of a good book. It’s beautifully written and I imagine Jennifer Lowe-Anker finding the healing power of the re-telling of the story, the process we find so often when we write.
I’ve written more about what climbing has taught me about friendship on my personal blog: Friendship Brownies
I also post on Mondays at the Heart of the Matter blog, a great shared blog of personal storytelling with a podcast that features inspirational creatives. My book about my journey to find what fueled my dad’s indelible spark and twinkle can be found on Amazon: Finding My Father’s Faith.
You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon
(featured photo from Pexels)