New York Times Portraits of Grief

Kathleen Moran

Every holiday, Kathleen Moran invited her parents, her brother and three sisters, their families and her closest friends to her home in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, for a festive dinner.

She often cautioned guests venturing into her backyard "to stay off the crops," usually carrots and tomatoes, which inevitably ended up in that night's feast.

From a modest upbringing, she was, by 43, an underwriting manager at Zurich North America.

Her sisters Mary Ann and Agnes Moran used the exact same words to describe her: "She was the glue that held us together."

She never married. Coined "the rich aunt," she took her nieces and nephews on vacations, and brought gifts for every birthday and communion. As her parents aged, she helped Agnes take care of them.

On Sept. 10, 2001, a business trip to Florida was replaced by a meeting to be held the following day at the Aon Insurance office on 105th floor of 2 World Trade Center.

The change meant that Ms. Moran could take her nephew Brendan, who was celebrating his 9th birthday on the 11th, to his favorite Japanese restaurant earlier than she thought. She had already sent him a card.

"She never missed a celebration," said Mary Ann Moran, Brendan's mother.

"She was missing on that Tuesday, that terrible Tuesday," she continued. "On Wednesday, our mail lady delivered love."

"It was such a gift," she said.