On a warm and cloudless July evening in Wiltshire Downs, England, Thomas Harding and his son Kadian, bicycles with a group of four others to a family dinner. At one point, their route ends suddenly and they momentarily lose their way. Kadian, an experienced and enthusiastic bicyclist, finds another route and leads the way down a new, somewhat steep, route. As the path descends, Kadian accelerates, but his brakes fail as he approaches an intersection, and a fast-moving van hits him, killing him instantly. Only a few minutes before, Kadian had looked out across a field, smiling and saying, “It’s so beautiful here. It’s so beautiful.” Now he is gone.
Harding speaks with raw courage and honesty in his book Kadian Journal: A Father’s Memoir, describing his son’s life and death and the grief that plagued him in the days, weeks and months ahead. We learn of a fourteen-year-old boy who loved life with a passion, who shared many talents and interests with friends and family, who was curious and creative, unafraid to try new things and delve into new projects. We learn of a husband and wife, devoted to Kadian and his sister, Sam, who frequently sought activities to enjoy together. We learn about the grief Harding struggled with and the strength he found in his wife, Debora.
Both tough and tender, this book demonstrates that what is most personal is most universal: our human need for love and the pain we feel when loss occurs. It is a book I heartily recommend, without reservation.