New York Times Portraits of Grief

David Vargas

When she saw the ball of smoke and fire behind her on Sept. 11 as she was being evacuated from the Bank of New York downtown, Rosa Caicedo had only one thought: "My husband was back there, and I feared that my children would be left without any parents if I didn't save myself. So I ran as fast as I could."

Her husband, David Vargas, worked on the 101st floor of 2 World Trade Center. He was a customer service manager at Pitney Bowes, and Ms. Caicedo worked part time as a checks processor a few blocks away, in a third-floor office. When a co-worker told her about the the plane hitting the first tower, she called her husband. "Get out, get out now," she said she told him.

"My children do not accept that he is dead," she said of her daughter, Leslie, 14, and her son, Kevin, 12. "They have not seen his body; we haven't been able to bury him, so they say that he is missing."

Mr. Vargas and his wife met when they had both been in this country about a year. He was from Bolivia, she is from Ecuador.

"I felt like I had known him all of my life. He was such a good person," she said. They married 17 years ago. He got his associate's degree in computer programming at LaGuardia Community College, and when he finished, he encouraged her to go. "He told me, now it is your turn," Mrs. Caicedo said.