Roman's First Birthday

Roman spent his first birthday in Heaven on November 27th this year. The days and weeks leading up to this day were increasingly hard. Instead of prepping, planning, and choosing a theme for my son’s first birthday party, we were trying to decide how to meaningfully honor him on a blustery Tuesday morning. What sort of traditions would we want to set in place, knowing that we will continue these until our last days? With 5/6 of our family’s birthdays falling in a 2.5 month span, and at the holidays no less, we decided making a cake for him was too much haha. I had many people offer to spend the day with me (and I am incredibly grateful for that support!), but ultimately we wanted to have that day as an intimate time for our family to remember our son/brother.

So here is what we ended up doing:

Roman's first birthday

-We each wrote or drew a letter for Roman. We took those down to the piers at the end of our street at about 8:00am, before we all parted our separate ways for the morning. It was an extremely windy and cold day, so we huddled up together, while we read them aloud to each other, sharing what we missed about Roman and how much we love him. We’ll save these letters in a box in the years to come. (side note, any good ideas for a box?)

-We also took a giant #1 balloon with us. I had visions of us releasing this balloon into the sky, watching until it disappeared into the sky. At the bottom of the balloon, I tied different color ribbons for each of our family’s favorite colors—black (Ron), purple (me), pink (Aly), blue (Fynn), red (Roman, the entire time he was in my womb, Aly would speculate that red was his favorite color, so that’s what we’ve always kept it as!), and green (Jackson, though he’s free to change that later!). Then I attached a little note with Roman’s hashtag on it, hoping maybe someone would find it eventually and be touched by his story.

Well that is not how it went at all. The note fell off long before we even made it to the piers, the balloon was slowly deflating from the cold air, and It was so windy that the balloon would have went straight into the trees that surrounded where we were at. So instead, we ventured back towards 12th Avenue looking for the right place to let it go. 12th Ave was teaming with standstill traffic as the morning commuters made their way to work. Horns were blaring. Jackhammers were going off. It was perhaps the least peaceful place to set his balloon free. Finally, the cold got the better of us, and we just let it go, watching it dart off of one car and the next, people staring at us strangely as we stood on the sidewalk crying. And finally, we watched it make its awkward way up on top of skyscrapers and then beyond. We laughed as the tears rolled down our faces. That was our life summed up in a moment—beautiful, sad, and in the midst of this crazy, loud city. That moment was beautifully imperfect, and I’ll cherish it for a lifetime.

-Finally, we ended the morning with a trip to get donuts at the car wash. (They are seriously some of the best donuts in the city and happen to be down the street!) We brought a candle, sang happy birthday to him, and ate our donuts as we watched businessmen run their cars through the car wash.

And then we went on with our day. That’s the hardest part sometimes, that life still moves forward. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we met and said goodbye to Roman, and sometimes I wish I could just go back to that afternoon I was holding him and freeze time. But life has moved on, and now it’s complicated, if I went back, then Jackson wouldn’t be here. I want them both here; something impossible and unfair.

On Roman’s first birthday, we felt so much love from friends and family as we received an outpouring of texts, messages, and letters. I shed many tears on the shoulders of friends that day. It was a relief to be able to wear my grief so openly for even just one day.


My son, not a day goes by that we don’t think of you. Your big brother and sister are already telling Jackson about you, and your Papi and I talk of you daily. You are never far from any of our hearts and minds. We love you dearly. I desperately wish you were here, and that I could say “my boys” or look at family pictures without a twinge of pain hitting my heart, as you have left a hole no one can fill. We long for the day our family is reunited, and we can be seated at the right hand of God, alongside you.

I love you so much,


a beautiful gift from a friend