Joel’s Story

Site created on April 25, 2020

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. This page begins in the second stage of Joel's story, when he was admitted to the ICU of Memorial Sloan Kettering.  We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

Newest Update

Journal entry by C Rhys

6 months.  And visions and sights and sounds still strike chords... many happy, some bittersweet. 

This day I am including one of each... plucked from so many that visit me and stay awhile.

The video link takes you to a performance with Classical Tahoe and Jennifer Rowley, fresh off the stage from her magical MET portrayals that spring of 2019... in this concert, she had just sung 4 Verdi blockbuster arias, plus Pucinni's Vissi d'arte... and then came back for an encore that was captured by Jen's husband from the audience (thank you for that!)  So I  imagine that this is the most full-throated, full-orchestra version of this particular song that you will likely ever hear (everyone still being in grand opera mode!) Thrilling.

The second is an intimate and extremely soulful letter written by a youth for his college application essay.  He asked his mother, a dear friend, to proof the letter for him. She did, and then sent it to me, under the heading "wanted to share." God bless her. What a treasure this is.  And what a gift to have and to hold... totally Joel, once again.

And most of all: wishing you each a happy holiday tomorrow... I live in gratitude for you every day, for your kindness and support, and your gracious and generous sharing of this journey.

May there be handfuls of Stars in your collective Crowns. Thank you 🙏 
Text of the Letter:


"I don’t remember much about when or why I started playing the violin; one rarely remembers much from the age of five.  I do however hold a memory from age six close to my heart.  A family friend came to visit, one whom I was told was a musician like I was.  He asked to hear me play, though I can’t imagine it sounded very appealing, and he made me a deal: If I continued to play, one day he would play alongside me.  I don’t think he thought much of it, but I took it to heart. I’ve always greatly enjoyed playing, but in times when I felt frustrated, when I came close to quitting altogether, I would remember that deal, that promise, and I would always continue. I later learned that he was a conductor at the Metropolitan Opera.

          I also learned, months after the fact, that he died as a result of COVID-19.  This came as a shock, considering the importance his words had on my continued violin playing.  If I hadn’t persevered to fulfill my end of the deal, I never would have had the opportunity to perform in the groups I have over the years; some of my proudest memories include performing in the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra, playing difficult pieces I couldn’t have imagined playing a few years earlier.  With his promise left unfulfilled, all I can do is continue in his honor and memory. I hope that this will only strengthen my ability through resolve, just as striving to play alongside him did."

Link to Jennifer Rowley and Joel:

Jennifer Rowley encore CT 2019

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