New York Times Portraits of Grief

Ayleen Santiago




Ayleen Arroyo lost her compass on Sept. 11: her mother, Ayleen Santiago. The 15-year-old remembers what her mother taught her. Depend on yourself.

"She was so proud of her daughter, seeing her make something of herself," said Carlos Albert, Ms. Santiago's brother. "The proudest moment of her life was watching Ayleen go off to Brooklyn Tech high school. There aren't too many Hispanics there, and she made it beyond the odds."

Ms. Santiago, 40, of Brooklyn, was a mother of two, including a 16-month-old boy, and a computer consultant at Blue Cross and Blue Shield. She was the daughter of a single mother of four. She grew up in Park Slope and Sunset Park, and watched her mother work hard without breaking. Seeing that made her a steely woman, Mr. Albert said.

She was a good parent. She was strict about her curfew, and limited the blocks her daughter could travel. "I tell my niece, `Keep doing it like your mother was still here,' " Mr. Albert said. "Her dream was for my niece to become a lawyer."