New York Times Portraits of Grief

Denise Lenore Benedetto

The most important things in Denise Lenore Benedetto's life were her family and her Roman Catholic faith.

It was that faith that sustained her 10 years ago, after doctors diagnosed a spinal condition so serious that she had a 25 percent chance of being paralyzed from the chest down, said her husband, John Benedetto.

As it happened, she recovered fully after spending six months in a body cast, and was able to have a second daughter and eventually to work full time as a secretary at Aon in the World Trade Center.

Ms. Benedetto, 40, went to Mass every weekend at Saint Rita's Church, a block away from her house on Staten Island.

The church is not far from where she grew up, in a housing project down the street from her husband's childhood home. They met one evening when they were both 17, when she stood beneath his window and began talking to him. She went to get some ice cream, and when she came back it fell off the stick. They both laughed. "It was love from that moment on," he said.