New York Times Portraits of Grief

Barbara Etzold

Barbara Etzold always answered the phone whenever David Konigsberg called for a friend who never seemed to be available. On one level, this was natural; she was, after all, a receptionist at Fred Alger Management. On another, it was kismet.

Two months into this strange telephonic relationship, Mr. Konigsberg mentioned in passing that he would be stopping by the office, and Ms. Etzold popped the question: "Why don't you take me out to lunch?"

The widowed receptionist and the divorced health-benefits administrator became inseparable. In 1997, a year after their first date, the couple moved into a house that Mr. Konigsberg bought in Jersey City. They would boat together along the Hudson River, snorkel together in the Bahamas, ride stationary bicycles together at a local health club. "She and I were just livers of life," Mr. Konigsberg said, referring to Ms. Etzold, who was 43. "There wasn't enough."

Then, of course, there was their Harley- Davidson. The two of them would zoom down to the beaches of New Jersey, to an arts-and-crafts community in Pennsylvania, or to the village of Cold Spring, in Putnam County. "You go up that Route 9W and over the Bear Mountain Bridge," Mr. Konigsberg said. "Especially at this time of year, when it's the most beautiful."