New York Times Portraits of Grief

Robert D. W. Higley II

When he was just 4 years old, Rob Higley moved to Ridgefield, Conn., and soon made friends with three other little boys: Carl and Erik Abrahamson and Dan Kish. When he was 8, Rob's family moved away. But he kept his friends.

In fact, he built his life around them, said his wife, Vycki Higley. He decided to go to the University of Connecticut because one of his pals was going there too, and they could room together. Through his old friends, he met his wife and her parents, who also lived in Ridgefield.

"The boys," as Mrs. Higley calls them, went mountain biking together and took their families camping every summer.

Though his jobs in the insurance business took them all over the country during their seven-year marriage, the Higleys always dreamed of moving back to Connecticut, "close enough so he could be around these guys all the time," Mrs. Higley said. Last spring, their dream came true when Mr. Higley got a job at Aon in the World Trade Center. He started work there on June 11.

Mr. Higley was 29 when he died. His three dear friends are godfathers to his daughters, Amanda, 4 1/2, and Robyn Elizabeth, who was born on Nov. 3.