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Were You Close? A memoir of sibling loss and unexpected grief.

For Anne Pinkerton G’16, Bay Path’s MFA program provided the support and structure she needed to pen a telling chronicle on the loss of her brother—known as Dr. Dave—and her resulting and unexpected grief.

A successful radiologist and elite outdoor athlete, Dr. Dave appeared to be invulnerable.

Anne Pinkerton G’16

Gifted with a deep reserve of natural ability, he took on the most demanding of outdoor challenges, from triathlons to mountain biking, and conquered them all. A born leader, Dr. Dave was widely respected by his peers for both his generosity of spirit and keen athletic prowess.

When the news arrived that Dr. Dave was missing during his quest to conquer all 54 of Colorado’s 14-ers—peaks above 14,000 feet—Anne Pinkerton at first did not believe it. Soon, the worst was confirmed: Her brother had fallen 200 feet to his death.

Were You Close? became Anne’s own quest for the layered truth of what happened on the mountain and her outlet for capturing her personal grief journey, which she hopes will provide solace for others who have lost a sibling.

“Sudden loss brings about its own array of difficulties,” remarked Pinkerton. “But when it is unfathomable, it leaves behind so many unanswered questions.”  

First and foremost, Pinkerton had a need to know what happened. On September 3, 2008, Dr. Dave climbed three of the 14-ers, an incredible accomplishment that Anne’s family was aware of because Dave had signed the register at the top of each peak. It was on the last descent that the accident occurred.  

“He was by himself that day. Even though he was fit and a person who planned for all contingencies, we were left wondering if it was weather, altitude or did he slip?”

Anne continued to seek answers while dealing with her own sense of loss. Over time, she learned grief has its own hierarchy. In trying to resolve her own heartache, she discovered that sibling grief was overlooked.  

“I wrote this book because I wanted the world to remember my amazing brother and to help another sister or brother who might be going through the same experience. I wanted people to know they are not alone.”

Anne credits Bay Path’s MFA faculty—with kudos to Professors Mel Allen, Leanna James Blackwell, and Kate Whouley—for their mentorship and encouragement to embrace the memoir first as her thesis project and, ultimately, as a book.  

“I am so grateful to Bay Path because it opened doors to a writing community that I am part of even today. The program not only gave me confidence as a writer but also the support to say, ‘I am a writer.’”

The title of Were You Close? came from a question Anne was repeatedly asked. The response can best be summed up by Anne, “The writing process helped me keep my brother alive on the page. In a sense, we did grow closer. And by shaping his story on the page, I gained some control. I can’t change what happened, but I can change how I own it.”

To purchase Were You Close? A Sister’s Quest to Know the Brother She Lost, visit Anne’s website.