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Joel died before his time battling cancer. Initially his widow Elizabeth brought me a photograph of Joel. However we ended up creating a memorial portrait using not his photo but a drawing by Joel of the goddess Morriaga because his faith tradition was Wicca. Elizabeth's stories about Joel continued to bring more ideas into the piece, with the Healing Dreamscape's imagery giving Joel's young widow permission to move on in her grief journey. Here she explains in her own words:
"Well, when I first read what you said about the heart-shaped bush, I cried, as I sometimes lose sight of the fact, we were married for such a short time. I lived so much in just 3 years. But despite the fact that it was cut short by a tragic illness, I would never have done much else differently. I got to know what it was to really, truly be loved and to love selflessly for the first time in my whole life.The dragon was actually pretty cool once I saw it. I think Joel's dragon, as good as it is, would have looked a little cartoony. This dragon, in my mind, reminds of me the great nobility Joel said dragons have. He also used to say he knew he was a very old soul and that Asian dragons were amongst the oldest ones known.As I see the dragon over Arlington, I like to think that perhaps Joel lends himself in service to his goddess as a carrier of warrior souls who have been slain in battle, carrying them up to Heaven, so they will not fall prey to any evil spirits, but reunited with loved ones and heal from the damage of Earth quickly. I know he would be honored to do such service for those who are being killed in Iraq, or other places.He did not want to be in Arlington, although I do not know really why. I guess he felt only those who were killed in war deserved such a holy place. He did not think Presidents or judges deserved to be there unless they too were in battle or in the Armed Forces. He said Presidents do not die for their country but soldiers do. It also reminds me of how he wanted to be identified as a warrior, even as he was dying. I know he wanted to die amongst comrades, which he did at Hines VA.I also like to think the Asian dragon gives me permission to go to the Orient, to continue with my Asian studies, even though he is not of this plane anymore."