Imagine this – a quiet Carpinteria street, early morning, a lone police car pulls up before a cottage. You can tell by the garden that whoever lives here loves plants, especially roses. Inside the squad car sits a women in her mid-forties. Her expression is blank, shocked.
“Do you want me to go in with you?” the officers asks.
The woman, renowned for her beauty in New York, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico wherever she’d gone, quickly shakes her head.
Gail gets out of the car, passes through the garden, and opens the door. Inside it’s just as she left it, only her husband – the man who nursed her back to health, did everything for her after her stroke is gone, dead. She’s alone, broke, the money all spent on her recovery. After the stroke, she had to learn to walk, talk, drive everything we take for granted in an adult, again. What is she going to do? How is she going to survive without Tom? He was everything to her. From the moment their eyes met in that New York bar, he there from Los Angles to run in the Marathon, they’d been inseparable. He talked her into moving to Los Angeles, where with her excellent reputation tested in brokerages, PR firms, serving the world’s richest and most famous clients, soon landed a position as L.A. billionaire, David Murdock’s top assistant.
Life was going great. Everything was falling into place, then the stroke, now this.
With the courage, indefatigable spirit, and intelligence that had taken her as a teenager from News Brunswick, New Jersey to a job in Manhattan, Gail Esola, reinvented herself as Gia Sola and went on to become an award winning published author, her short stories appearing in numerous literary journals including SLAB, RiverSedge, Not Your Mother’s Book: On Travel, her lyrical fantasy Jack and Madalena: In the City by the Bay awarded an Honorable Mention in the annual Short Story America literary competition.
Many times, I told her that her story was more compelling than anything she could imagine, but she said it was too painful to relive as vividly as her writing required of her. She came closest in her novel, The Mermaids of Willow Creek, (“Packs a mean punch” Kirkus Review) where she used her own medical records to describe a stroke.
Gia, in the wonderful way our brains find new pathways, learned to do things her way. She might get lost driving to the beach, but she saw exactly what was on a page, and never missed a typo or misplaced punctuations. As such she was much in demand as an editor both for fiction and academic papers. She lent her writing skills to numerous Santa Barbara nonprofits including the Carriage Museum where she taught herself the intricacies of publishing software to produce their newsletter. Her inspiring recovery was a source of hope for stroke victims at the Santa Barbara Rehabilitation Institute.
Returning from Sedona last year with a cough, she was originally misdiagnosed and treated for Valley Fever. By the time the lung cancer that took her life was finally detected, despite the valiant efforts of the Santa Barbara medical community to save her, it was too late. Gail did not want to die. She fought to the end, crying and cursing the final challenge she could not overcome.
In her own words, “Through it all, I have loved and lost. And loved again. I believe many people have come into my life for a reason. And far too many have gone. But I am grateful to everyone. In some ways, everyone and every thing serves to reveal some new aspect of my self, illuminating both my faults and my gifts, as I travel the path to authenticity.”
We’re so grateful to you, too, Gail.