May 19, 2024

On May 19, 2024, the three year anniversary, or yahrzeit, of Julian’s passing, friends and family gathered both at Julian’s bench in Wissahickon Park in Philadelphia, and at Julian’s tree in Miami, Florida.

Letter to Julian, from Tony Rostain

Dear Julian,
It’s been a while since I last wrote you.  Today is your 3rd Yahrzeit and I feel motivated to sit and put my thoughts/feelings to words.  To start, I don’t need to tell you how much I miss you.  It’s impossible to express my heartbreak.  I’ve stopped trying to describe it or write about it like I did in the past.  I’m slowly learning to live with this sorrow and to absorb it into my daily life.  That’s a forever project, but I’m not in any rush.  

Last night, we arranged some of your photos and today we lit a candle in your memory.  Someone from work sent us beautiful flowers.  I sent a photo of the shrine to family and friends, and they all appreciated it, sending love and sharing other photos of you in the good mes we shared.  So many beautiful memories Julian!  Such gorgeous images of you across the span of your life.  One of my favorites is you singing at your desk in the basement of our house on Delancey Street with your dinosaur toys.  A couple of them are on my desk and I’m looking at them now… I’m crying Julian.  It feels good to just let the tears flow.  

You are with me always. Your family and friends are all thinking about you today and sending us their loving thoughts and prayers.  You wouldn’t believe how many people have reached out to tell me how they miss you and wish you could be here to feel their love.  Some are lighting candles in your memory, others are sending warm remembrances. Julian – you had such an amazing aura and presence! Your energy and passion were palpable to everyone.  We all remember your smile and your laughter. We are warmed by memories of the glow of your twinkling eyes!  Despite this terribly painful sorrow of losing you, your life has been a blessing and will always be! 

Last night, Michele and I watched Perfect Days, a gorgeous movie by Wim Wenders.  It’s set in Tokyo and tells the story of an older man named Hirayama who lives alone and works as a janitor cleaning the public toilets.  It’s a remarkable film, much of it silent, that follows him through his daily life with careful, inmate attention to details: how he awakens, puts away his bed, washed his face, brushes his teeth, dresses, prepares to go to work, gets into his car with a can of coffee (Boss), puts a cassette into the player (Patty Smith, Lou Reed, Velvet Underground) and drives off.  The camera follows him through all his daily activities with a quiet and respectful perspective.  Moving at a slow and deliberate pace, we see Hirayama mindfully embracing everything he does with a contemplative and accepting attitude.  What’s especially moving is how he watches the sunlight through the trees and marvels at the beauty of the moment – ‘Komorebi’ is the Japanese term for it. I resonated with Hirayama on so many levels! The movie put me in a calm and quiet joyful state of mind.

Perhaps in anticipation of your Yahrzeit or in response to the film, you came to me in a dream last night.  We were driving around the old Toyota Camry looking for a car repair shop to get it fixed.  The road was windy and a bit treacherous, clearly somewhere in the country, and I remember having trouble handling the car because it was damaged.  You were singinng next to me encouraging me to keep going even though it looked like we had missed the place.  And sure enough, after going around the bend, we found it and drove down a steep, muddy hill into the garage.  What’s so interesting about this dream, Julian, is how it condensed several memories into a narrative.  First, the time you crashed the Camry when you took it for a drive. Second, when we drove the van that we rented in Greece up a mountain and got stuck at a dead end.  What an ordeal it was to get it out! And third, when we drove back to the house on Martha’s Vineyard after I picked you up at the airport.  I think the film images of Hirayama driving in his van through Tokyo also influenced the imagery of the dream.  The dream was a mixture of happiness, that you were next to me in the passenger seat, and anxiety because I didn’t know where we were going, and I was afraid the car would crash off the road. The dream ended suddenly, and I woke up to a strong feeling of your presence.  I was sad and happy at once, Julian. It’s a state of mind I’ve come to inhabit over many years, long before your death.  If anything, the mixture of joy and sorrow has been a signature of my emotional life since a very young age.  You always knew this about me.  You understood I had lived through many hurtful experiences in my youth, and that I was in touch with the ups and downs of life.  You were always interested in knowing about my past, and what I’d learned about life growing up.  And you were always very receptive to the songs I loved to play for you and Isabelle on my guitar.  It moved me when you would start to sing some of them in a playful way: “Old man look at my life, I’m a lot like you were…”.  The image in my mind’s eye of you teasingly singing it to me brings tears to my eyes…

Speaking of music, I’m listening to Spotify as I write this.  The song that’s playing now is a beauty: “Call it Dreaming” by Iron & Wine.  The lyrics are so powerful.  There’s a line that haunts me: “we can weep and call it singing…”. And another one: “we can lose and call it living.”   I know what they mean.  I’m blown away as I listen to it and conjure you when I hear the refrain “for all the love you’ve le behind, you can have mine…”  

Say it’s here where our pieces fall in place 

Any rain softly kisses us on the face 

Any wind means we’re running 

We can sleep and see ’em coming 

Where we drift and call it dreaming 

We can weep and call it singing 

Where we pray when our hearts are strong enough 

We can bow, ’cause our music’s warmer than blood 

Where we see enough to follow 

We can hear when we are hollow 

Where we keep the light we’re given 

We can lose and call it living 

Where the sun isn’t only sinking fast 

Every night knows how long it’s supposed to last 

Where the time of our lives is all we have 

And we get a chance to say 

Before we ease away 

For all the love you’ve left behind 

You can have mine 

Say it’s here where our pieces fall in place 

We can fear, ’cause the feeling’s fine to betray 

Where our water isn’t hidden 

We can burn and be forgiven 

Where our hands hurt from healing 

We can laugh without a reason 

‘Cause the sun isn’t only sinking fast 

Every moon and our bodies make shining glass 

Where the time of our lives is all we have 

And we get a chance to say 

Before we ease away 

For all the love you’ve left behind 

You can have mine 

It’s a beautiful spring day here Julian.  Michele and I are going to walk to your bench with Layla and spend time bathing in the memory of your time with us.  Gen, Isaiah and Lily will join us. We’ll look at the trees and the sky and the clouds, and we’ll remind you how you’re still alive in our hearts.  We go to your bench every weekend, but today is special because it’s your day of remembrance.  And this is the way we celebrate your life.   I love you so much and will forever. 

Your Pops

Memorializing Julian

Miami Beach Botanical Garden

A tree has been dedicated in Julian’s name at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. This location was chosen because it will be the location where Julian’s sister Isabelle will be getting married in the coming months. With this dedication, Julian’s spirit will be with us as we celebrate this milestone.

Fairmount Park

On Saturday, September 4th friends and family gathered in the Blue Bell section of Wissahickon Park to memorialize Julian with a bench dedication. This side, just blocks from his father’s home, was chosen because the spot was so special to Julian. He spent many days walking the trails with his dogs here, and it became a gathering spot for his friends. 

Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention

Julian’s father Tony has created a team for the Philadelphia walk. Donations are encouraged, and can be made to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, please reach out to us if you would like to walk with us.


Julian’s love of dogs and deeply giving heart made this organization a perfect fit for memorial giving. Hand2Paw connects at risk youth with shelter animals, providing the dogs with loving care and the kids with life skills. Over $10,000 has been raised for Hand2Paw in Julian’s name. You can make your donation on their website,


A collaborative Spotify list has been created by Julain’s sister, Isabelle. We encourage you to add any songs you know he loved, or any that remind you of him.

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