Nikola Rosa Phoenix
– Inspiration comes in diverse ways… –
When you reach for your goals, they seem as distant as the stars in the sky; but this is an illusion. They are already in the palm of your hand. – Nikola Rosa
Tesla was born on the 10th of July, which happens to be the day I met my late husband. He was my first experience with unconditional love. I say first as an indication of my hope that if it happened with him, it is possible it may happen again in this lifetime. It is this type of love that heals the soul and has power beyond our imagination. It is this type of love that great love stories tend toward, but it surpasses them by a mile. Tesla was also a polyglot; he spoke eight languages. I have aspired to be a polyglot for most of my life because of a desire to communicate with others, unprohibited by language barriers.
My middle name is after Rosa Parks. She is an inspiration in her courage and the admittedly unplanned nature of her historically renowned act of courage. She did not expect to change history in not giving up her seat on the bus that day. She just did what she believed was the right thing to do in that moment. If we all just did what was the right and courageous thing to do in EACH moment, how different our world might be. The name Rosa reflects the aspiration of courage.
My last name of Phoenix reflects the mythological bird which dies and then rises from the ashes. “You have seen my descent; now watch me rise!” The one that comes after is not the same, nor could it be, as the one before, when it comes to tragedy in life. Some people that knew me before tragedy struck naturally have a desire for my self to continue as it were, but that is not possible. Who I was died with the death of my soulmate. He and I knew that would happen. We knew we could not live without each other.
However, after my death, to my surprise, I was given the chance to rise from the ashes; to use my insight and experience to become something better than the original. Of course, better is a loaded word. It is certainly relative and defined through the eyes of the beholder. I, Nikola Rosa Phoenix, am more aware and act intentionally in life with a greater awareness for its’ fragile and unreliable nature. In other words, I am constantly aware and act from a place of knowing that today may be my last day or the last day of someone I love. As a result, I try to act accordingly.
If YOU knew it would be YOUR actual last day, you would most certainly do things differently. You would throw off the chains of any burdens or responsibilities, be unaffected by stress and frustration and throw yourself heartily into being present in the love and joy of the day. You would talk only about the things that truly fill your heart. You would not waste precious time or energy thinking about anger, hate, resentment, or conflict. You would hold all that you have for love and joy. This is how I aspire to live each day.
I am a widowed mother of two young children. My husband and soulmate, Jerry Gass Jr., a Green Beret, died in August of 2014 from a massive heart attack during a combat operation in Afghanistan at the age of 33 years old. He was the love of my life and overnight, my whole world as I knew it was shattered. I was a Special Agent in the United States Government and my career was my life long before I met the love of my life. I traveled a lot for work, but that became challenging as a wife with a deployed husband and two young babies. When my husband died and I was suddenly a single parent, my career took a backseat and I prioritized being a better and more present mom to two children still in diapers.
If you knew Nancy Gass prior to August 3, 2014, you knew a career investigator in love with life and her handsome husband and two babies, by all accounts, living the dream. If you met Nancy Gass after that fateful day, you know a grief-stricken young widowed mother suffering through an extreme post-loss identity crisis.
Nikola Rosa is an artistic rendering of the soul that has come to exist after rising from the ashes. Her thoughts are from Nancy Gass, and yet they are in some ways a different person entirely. We all have hearts and souls that are a deep ocean of complexity and this dichotomy is no different. I am one person and though I have been transformed as a result of my tragedy, it is important for me personally to not be identified by my tragedy.
I am not, at my core, a “widow.” Nor am I defined by my past career or future goals. I am not solely a mother, “the mother” of my two beautiful children. We are all a compilation of the many roles we have in our lives, past and present. Nikola Rosa is, in effect, a display of one role in my life; the wise part of my mind and the light part of my soul, aching to seep through and shower the other roles with passion, perseverance, patience, hope, inspiration and love.