New York Times Portraits of Grief

Barbara Jean Arestegui

Far from Manhattan's twin towers, far from just about anywhere, she would stretch out on the floor by a wood fire, with three cats and tea and a James Taylor album going. There, in the village of Marstons Mills on Cape Cod, Barbara Jean Arestegui could collect herself, after her three days on duty as a flight attendant for American Airlines.

Bobbi Arestegui, 38, an attendant for 13 years, knew one thing well: how to relax.

On the Cape, she gathered the strength that made her the usual choice to handle any problem passenger. Ms. Arestegui, at a disarming 5-foot-3, could sit next to an overwrought traveler and listen for hours.

On Sept. 11, she was up and out of the house at 3:30 a.m. to be ready to attend to the passengers on Flight 11. In Boston, she reported in at 6:30 for the departure from Logan International Airport. Flight 11 took off right on time, at 7:59.

Later that week, her longtime companion, Wayne Nichols, found among her things a folder she had kept hidden, filled with notes from passengers over the years. One, on the back of a receipt and dated Aug. 13, said simply, "Thanks for the service."