I spent Sunday and Monday scrambling to finish my book cover redesign, having discovered (after about six hours of font exploration on Saturday afternoon) that I HAD purchased the font I was using and owned the commercial license for it. Yay!

I very much wanted to finish the job, because the last time I redesigned my covers, I went on vacation, then came home and decided I didn’t like the new covers enough to make the effort of posting them. I didn’t want that to happen again and it easily could have, because I was planning to get on a plane on Wednesday afternoon to visit my dad and friends in Florida. (I don’t think it would have, because I currently really like these covers, but you never know. Maybe in a week I’ll feel differently.)

Except when I looked at my ticket, purchased last summer when fares were cheap, I realized that I was wrong about my dates. It was actually Tuesday afternoon that I was flying to Florida. And when I checked in for my flight on Monday afternoon, United promptly told me that if my plans were flexible, I probably didn’t want to be flying through Denver the next day. I wound up flying out on Tuesday morning through SFO instead, bright and early, working on my covers in the airport. It felt very business-like of me to be working while traveling, but the weird little scramble of leaving 36 or so hours earlier than I expected to be leaving also left me feeling somewhat discombobulated.

the 2023 cover for A Gift of Ghosts

The new cover for A Gift of Ghosts. This one is actually based on a photograph I took, so I’m the photographer, the artist, and the designer. Shine on, me.

Still, I did mostly get my new covers up. I haven’t been able to get all the covers to update: I updated the audiobooks, but those covers still seem to be the old ones, and I haven’t finished updating the translations yet, but I do like the look of the new covers. Are they sensible? Possibly not. A Gift of Luck, in particular, doesn’t exactly scream out its genre. On the other hand, I’ve never really figured out the genre for A Gift of Luck anyway, so possibly just having a really pretty cover will suffice to get some reader clicks. (Also, pragmatically, does it really matter? The fifth book in a series sells based on the first four books in the series, and if a reader likes 1-4, they might continue with 5. It’s not as if anyone is going to discover Luck on its own.)

Cover of A Gift of Luck 2023

I used the same stock photo, just with a lot of filtering, but I really love the new color. Does it say “romantic ghost story?” Probably not. But it’s pretty!

And now I’m luxuriating in Florida sunshine, which is so incredibly nice. And such a good reminder to live in the moment, always. Being in Florida can be hard; there’s always some ruminating about the past involved. And with both friends and family, there’s usually the moment that goes like this:

Friend, tentatively, carefully: So have you heard anything from–

Me, firmly, quickly: No. Not a word.

And then there’s usually a little more conversation than that, whatever form it takes. Sometimes the, “I’m so sorry, that must be so hard,” and sometimes the, “Not since the diatribe about me being a ‘wretched, emotionally stunted creep undeserving of (his) time and energy’,” probably depending on who is more uncomfortable with the ensuing silence, me or the friend in question.

But the conversation doesn’t actually hurt any more than the lack of the conversation: I’m grateful that people care. I feel more loved by the acknowledgement of the pain, even though it hurts, than I do when I feel like he’s been forgotten. It’s funny, though, because I actually think a lot about the future day when I will forget. It will happen. Someday there will be a day when a thought of R never crosses my mind. I suspect it’ll be a busy day, maybe a lot going on, plenty of distractions, a quick falling asleep, no time spent in a car looking into space. Hopefully I’ll be being really productive, super engaged with whatever work I have going on. Maybe it’ll be a sociable day, lots of people coming and going. And it’ll be weird, of course, because when it happens, I won’t notice.

That being the whole point, really: on that future day, whenever it is, there will be never be a moment when a thought or a memory or a feeling or a taste reminds me of R. It hasn’t happened yet, though, or at least I don’t think so. Maybe it did and I missed it. Still, you know what? That day won’t be in Florida. Pretty damn sure I can guarantee that.

But that’s okay. Yesterday I floated in my dad’s community swimming pool, completely alone, watching the clouds overhead as they made different shapes and flowed past, reveling in the sensation of water all around me, sunshine on my face, and feeling, deep-down, all the way to the core of my being, that life is good. Hard, too, yes. Change is inevitable, expectations and reality collide in unexpected ways, growth and decay go hand-in-hand. The flip side of grief is love. Or maybe that should be the flip side of love is grief. I didn’t expect to lose my son the way I did, but if I hadn’t loved him so much, it wouldn’t hurt so much. I don’t think I would trade loving him less for hurting less, really.

And today I get to sit on my friend Lynda’s back porch talking about writing with her, and tomorrow I’ll play board games with Christina and Frisbee and eat bacon tacos, and Monday I will watch my stepsister’s son play soccer and hopefully eat gluten-free pizza with some writing group friends, and Tuesday I get to go the Arts Festival at Epcot, and Wednesday, I will (weather willing!) get to swim one last time and then have a great meal with my dad and stepmom. And Thursday I fly home to Sophie Sunshine. And I’m pretty sure that on every one of those delightful days, I will get to both appreciate and be grateful for the sunshine. Thank goodness. Because sunshine after rain, rain, rain, and more rain, truly is glorious.