New York Times Portraits of Grief

 
TAKING TIME TO RELAX
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."