New York Times Portraits of Grief
When Venesha Rodgers caught a short ride home from work at Bradlees in North Brunswick, N.J., her lift, Hopeton Richards, instantly realized she was just the person he had been looking for: fun, smart, an active Christian and, like Mr. Richards, an émigré from Jamaica. Not only that, she lived around the corner. In July 1998, four years after that five-minute car ride, they were married.
Mrs. Richards was a one-woman power plant. As a young mother, a student in technology systems at Pace University, holding a full-time job, she still helped run trips for her church youth group.
Before baby Kayla was born last year, she and Mr. Richards traveled to Mexico; Key West, Fla.; the Bahamas; and the Poconos. "Ven always wanted to go to Paris," Mr. Richards said.
Mrs. Richards, 26, "was more of a mama to me than I was to her," said Lelith Grant, her mother, who worked night shifts as a nurse so she and Mrs. Richards could swap child-minding chores. On school holidays, Mrs. Richards took her little brother and sister to work at Marsh & McLennan on the 100th floor of 1 World Trade Center.
Heading home, she always made a beeline. "She couldn't wait to see Kayla take her first step," said Mr. Richards. "She took it three days after the incident."