Rewriting the End

Daniel Carver Peach

Daniel Carver Peach 1963-2003

On July 3, 2003, my youngest brother, Dan, was murdered at the age of 40. He was shot in the eye with a rifle while in his bathroom. The murder was never officially solved, though the circumstances and events that followed make that extremely hard to believe.

I’ve been thinking about Dan lately, partly because his birthday just passed and the anniversary of his death is sneaking up. July 4th is a bittersweet holiday for us – my brother loved fireworks. He was always in charge of explosions on Independence Day.

Then I woke up to another mass shooting in the US. As I listened to the shock and grief of torn-apart families, I connected with that desperate wish that none of it was real, that somehow it wasn’t happening. The suddenness is wrenching – there’s no warning, no last check marks on the bucket lists, no goodbyes, no way to rewrite the story of a life into a gentler ending.

One of my old childhood chums is reading The Sorcerer’s Garden, and I mentioned that the three main characters are based, a bit, on my two brothers and me. In the book, a character named Cody is in a vegetative state after a tragic accident. By way of a magical book, he gets a revised ending and the other characters get closure. When I wrote the book, I was, in a way, rewriting the end of true tale, a real life, my brother’s life.

The Sorcerer’s Gardena (slightly edited) snippet

His arms over his head, Cody stretched the last ache from his side. Morning light brightened the late summer gardens girding the palace. The air carried a hint of coolness, periwinkle blue and free of smoke. He’d traded his king’s blues for the leather breeches and jerkin of a northman despite his intention to head east. He wore a brimmed hat speared with a turkey feather, a fern-green cloak, and tawny silk scarf, the entire ensemble oddly mismatched as if he collected cast-offs from seven different households.

Behind him, a horse packed with gear chomped on his grandmother Lillian’s roses until Harris, the new Captain of the Queen’s Guard, took the reins and led it toward a patch of long grass. Cody nodded his thanks. He traded grips with Hart and kissed Cali and Candice on the cheek, the three survivors of the Guard who’d sworn to protect the princess. He would miss them as much as he already missed Tristan and Kyle, Danion, and Pagan. They had done what they’d vowed to do—saved a queen so she could restore a kingdom. Now, his next adventure called, the one that, not long ago, his grandmother told him needed to wait. The time for waiting had finally come to an end.

He kissed Lillian goodbye, and she smiled. Her silver hair shone in the sunlight and her butter-yellow robe flowed around her feet as she turned to face the fountain. Its perfectly round dream-crystal swirled beneath a glaze of streaming water. The stars and planets, the galaxies of the universe mutated in a kaleidoscope of colors, mysterious and tantalizing. “Your journey awaits you, child. You are finally free.”

“I wouldn’t have missed a moment of it,” he said. “Not a minute. I’ve lived a magnificent life.”

The queen strolled across the lawn, still reliant on Dustin’s arm. With her crown formally bestowed, the task of building a peaceful realm lay squarely on her shoulders. Yet, her first act had been personal, a request that Dustin stand at her side, first as friend and consort, and in time, when the land regained a sense of hope, as husband and king. He accepted, and though he didn’t look particularly regal in his armor and guard’s blues, he wore a ridiculous grin, clearly content in her company.

“All grown up and ready to go,” Dustin said, his arms open for an embrace.

“I never had any plans to grow up,” Cody assured him as they slapped each other’s backs. “But, yes, I’m ready to go. Have been for a while, though first we needed to take that one adventure together. Thank you, Dustin. ”

“I wouldn’t have missed it and have no desire to do it again,” Dustin said as they parted.

“Duty?” Cody asked.

“Choice,” Dustin replied with a smile for the queen.

“Clearly a good one then.”

The queen smirked. “I can order you to stay.”

“I don’t think you actually can.” Cody raised his eyebrows and shook his head.

“I thought you planned to go to sea.” She turned her gaze to Dustin. “Didn’t you once tell me he wished to try his hand as a brigand?”

“I think he expressed desires along those lines.” Dustin laughed.

“Another lifetime.” Cody’s lip tugged up. “There’s a river east of here I never finished exploring. That’s where I’m headed first. From there, I’ll see where this journey takes me.”

Tears welled in the queen’s eyes as she hugged him and whispered in his ear, “Thank you, Cody, for everything. For being a friend, for standing beside me, for accepting me and believing in me, for bringing Dustin into my life. I’m going to miss you terribly.”

Cody smiled and gave her a nod. He gripped his brother’s forearm and pulled him into a final embrace. “Life is an adventure, Dustin. And it’s so damn short. Promise me you won’t waste a moment. Follow the dreams that make you happy.”

With that, Cody mounted his horse and rode through the iron gates. He turned back, grinned and tipped his hat. The road beckoned, his next adventure begun.

Dan Peach - On to another adventure.

Dan Peach – His next adventure begun.

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169 thoughts on “Rewriting the End

  1. I had something quite like that happen in my family around the year 2000, unsolved also… but a nephew of mine..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just learned this story by randomly clicking on rewriting the end, I thought the title is interesting, let me see what it says further. I found the shocking news. “how could someone knew he was in his bathroom?” Could it have been someone who knows him well? A family or a friend? I hope one day you will be able to solve this murder, If it was me, I would go to the end of the earth to find who’d done. I will buy the book since it has cross my mind, I want to know further what is inside the book now. Take care Diana, thinking of you. Sweet hugs from London

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for reading and sorry for the late reply. I’m still catching up from being away. There are two suspects and one of them shot him, but the police can’t prove which one. It’s unbelievable and painful, but there’s little we can do. His death is still an open case and there is unbelievable drama around it. I hope someday that someone has to atone for our loss. Fourteen years later, I still miss him. Thanks so much for the sweet message and the hugs. ❤ ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • strange in the USA how they take ages to find out a culprit. Should it have happened in Britain, you and your families would have found justice long time. In Britain they don’t joke with who did it or who did not do it, but Scotland Yard is such a good policing that someone will have to tell the truth. They do their good jobs and someone is convicted or both of them or all of them and justice found and case closed. Here we have more cold cases mostly for people who have gone lost donkeys years ago when technology was too little, but lots of them have been solved and even if they are old and dying, they go and die in prison. That is what I like with justice in Britain. I am sure one day some words will fly in the wind, the sky is vast and there is no limit. There is nothing impossible in this life! Courage to you and your families!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. […] Myths of the Mirror: Rewriting the End […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sue Ranscht says:

    What was, what is, and what might have been… I hope you found healing power in the words. New endings can shade the past, even though they can’t erase it. It’s a sweet and hopeful tribute to a life cut short. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Diana, I’m sorry that I didn’t see this when you posted. You’ve made a truly beautiful tribute. I’ve no doubt Dan is smiling about it.
    I lost a sibling too. (So long ago, in many ways another life time…) She was 5; I was 8. It never goes away, but time does make it less difficult.
    Here’s to new adventures. Mega hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, Teagan, and for the lovely comment. I’m so sorry for the loss of your sister. The loss heals, but there is always a scar, and as the years pass, there are still holes in what might have been. Yes, new adventures that mustn’t be wasted! Hugs to you for a lovely weekend ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thinking of you, and your brother Dan as we get close to the 4th of July. What a handsome man he was. And I love imagining him as Cody, riding off to another layer of life, another place full of promise and fighting (and winning) against the demons and dragons. I loved The Sorcerer’s Garden, and now reading your background to the male character(s), love it even more. (P.S. The ending was perfect, to me).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Erik says:

    Flood of thoughts here. I’ll share just a couple.

    Thanks for your honesty, Diana. I hope that, at this time of heightened remembrance, the tide of happy memories rushes over and through and around the painful one.

    I cried when I heard about the Orlando shooting. I viewed every picture and read every name. But what caused even more pain was the continued hate that spewed from some people (small voices that, unfortunately, were given large audience, propagated by the media).

    What I see here, however, is quite the opposite. You also shared the story of a great personal tragedy and loss. Yet here, people united. People shared their own loss and condolences and “virtual hugs.” People came together. And even at this anniversary of your own loss, you showed compassion to others, as well. GOOD was brought into the world through your choice to share this deep loss and through others’ choices to engage with each other in positive ways around it.

    Anyone who doesn’t yet get the power of a blog … take note. You’ve just witnessed it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Erik. I think there are kind and generous and thoughtful people all over the world and that we far outnumber the petty voices of fear. I wish the media would focus less on the sensationalized fringes and more on the truth. Not the fluff, but the truthful core and nuances of an issue. I’ve found the blogging world to be full of wonderful souls that I count my friends 🙂 You included.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My heartfelt condolences on the tragic loss of your brother. Your story is a beautiful tribute to him. He lives on in your words. Thank you for sharing your brother’s photos with us. Peace, love and {{{hugs}}} MW

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Ali Isaac says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. Losing someone at the end of a long life is hard enough to deal with, but so young and in such tragic circumstances, well I don’t know how you ever learn to find acceptance of that. I guess it’s one of those occasions life thrusts on you where you have no choice but to deal with it. I have a younger brother. You’ve made me realise I don’t make the most of him, even though I love him. We’re so busy leading our own lives, I guess we just assume well always be there for each other. Ugh… there’s so much to say here, but I’ll just be rambling. Hugs to you, and RIP Dan. Xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Ali. I don’t know how we can prepare for these things, life is just what it is and we do the best we can, however imperfect that may be. It’s what makes love so special and life so poignant. Give your brother an extra squeeze once in a while. You’ll both remember it when it counts 🙂 Have a lovely loving summer, my friend. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Loss is great pain, yet the lingering love is forever hatched in the heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    • And we will all experience the pain of loss if we are lucky enough to live a long life. That certainty is one of the things that makes love and life so poignant and precious. Thank you for the visit and the beautiful comment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I am so sorry about your brother, and I am so glad you shared a photo of him. And I love that he lives on in your work, which is really nice, for us and you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Sacha Black says:

    This is so awful. I had no idea. So much loss you’ve experienced. I don’t even know how to respond. I know it was some time ago and so the rawness will have faded, but this is a terrible loss that will never fully leave, and like you say, with such horrendous reminders becoming all too frequent in the media… I… I am just so sorry. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are so sweet, Sacha. The rawness has faded, though the loss will always be there. I use the emotions in my writing, of course. Thanks for the visit. I know these posts are hard to respond to – but you did it! And I appreciate it ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  13. reocochran says:

    I missed this due to busy week and weekend.
    I was sorry to hear of how your brother died so young, with no true solution of why the crime took his life, Diana. ❤
    I am and always will feel close to my son and brother who both have faced danger, yet have also put themselves in harm's way, too. Jamie, my son, 36, so I cannot imagine his life being taken away. My brother has had a quadruple bypass heart surgery (age 55). He told me when Robin Williams took his life, (I realize NOT the same thing as another taking your brother's life) my brother Randy takes it one hour at a time, he said sometimes "just one minute at a time."
    I pray you will learn why this happened to your brother someday. It must leave you feel unsettled.
    I like your snippet/story about saving the Queen. How two brothers must part ways, having different reasons leading them in different directions. Cody will leave to chase dreams and adventures, while Dustin will stay with the Queen, loving and protecting her.
    I like how the essence of an expression, "I wouldn't change a thing" reflects your brother's life.
    The magical fountain with a crystal in its center, where water drops reflect rainbows around the air, got me teary eyed, Diana. Such beauty and hope. . . . " a kaleidoscope of colors," as you described stars, planets and galaxies, the heavens swirling.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the sweet comment, Robin. I don’t think we’ll ever know the why, and to be honest, it doesn’t change much. It just is. We will all lose each other, one way or the other, but having as much time together as possible is a blessing. Give your loved ones extra big hugs and have a wonderful week 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  14. cepcarol says:

    A heart touching tribute to your brother while saying the farewell you didn’t have a chance to do. I hope that time has done its healing for you and your family. Hugs for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There is always that whole in our lives and the wondering “if.” But it scars and usually isn’t at the front of my thoughts. Thanks so much for reading and for your lovely comment ❤

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