Nothing is certain, except death and taxes. This oft-quoted truism is still pertinent, but for those of us who are immersed in the world of motorcycling, there are even more certainties: the left-turning driver coming toward us will not use a signal, it will rain in the middle of a 10-year drought two days after we leave home without rain gear…the list goes on and on. Still, there is that death part. Last time I checked, the mortality rate for those being born is 100 percent, so it is inevitable that all of us, regardless of transportation choice, will face this specter somewhere along the line. That brings us to how those still living deal with the loss of loved ones and move on. As one source said, “You either get better or you get bitter.”
The true-to-life experiences of Candiya (Kan-die-uh) Mann, as unraveled in the pages of her book, On Grief, Hope and Motorcycles: A Diary, is a prime example of how this can be done, played out in a journaling of her personal life and the aftermath of the death of her fiancé, Mike, in a motorcycle accident. An added splash of flavor and color is her telling this painful story via her experiences as a new solo rider, and highlighting how the people in our lives, whether old friends or total strangers met on the road, can be beacons of light in the dark.
Ms. Mann bares and shares her grieving journey in a way that that is neither maudlin nor impassionate, but very humanizing, as many will be able to find connections with her feelings in their own life and experiences. Her dredging up and retelling of the facts, many very personal and painful, are presented to us as if we are hearing her inner thoughts. As motorcyclists, her account of a long solo trip soon after her loss will make many of us smile or remember similar journeys we once took. I’m no stranger to the grieving process (I lost 15 close family or friends in one 10-year span, including my father, sister, a best friend and my daughter), so perhaps I feel especially in tune to her message and passage through the “grief storm.” I can certainly relate to how being on two wheels has a cathartic, soothing effect and can be both a blessing and a curse, but one most of us would not choose to change if faced with similar circumstances.
On Grief, Hope and Motorcycles is more than just one woman’s accounting of her sorrow, it is much more. It provokes one to think seriously about some unpleasant “what-ifs,” and to look forward in our life journey so as to live without, or limit, the regrets we may face. In line with other publications such as Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, the reader is carried along with the author and it is impossible not to feel empathetic with her regardless of gender, though to the fast-growing number of female riders joining the ranks I think it would have a special meaning.
Candiya Mann is a professional researcher, evident in the quality of her prose, facts and quotes being equal to the best of any modern publication. The diary entry style will see the reader flow easily from page to page, quickly reaching the end of one chapter and wanting to start the next, much like a beautiful twisty road we find by accident when out riding. Above all, this reader finds it to be an inspiring story of hope to anyone who would let it touch their optic nerves; a beautiful insight into how one person found a way of moving forward through (no one gets over) a tragic event in her life.