Robert McPadden

To say Robert and Kate McPadden were excited about moving to the Pearl River neighborhood where he grew up hardly captures the extent of their joy.

This was a chance to live closer to his relatives in the hamlet and hers in nearby Ramsey, N.J.

McPadden was living his dream as a New York City firefighter. He was assigned to Engine 23 in Manhattan and switched shifts from Sept. 12 to Sept. 11 so he could close on the sale of the couple's Westchester home. They were to move into the Pearl River home in October, right around the time they would have celebrated their third wedding anniversary.

About a week after the attacks, Kate McPadden decided she would still move. She knew immediately it was the right decision as well-wishers, many of them strangers, dropped by to welcome her to the neighborhood.

McPadden went back to work in November and has been working hard on the projects she and Bob were supposed to do together. She has ripped up carpeting, redone hardwood floors, cut down trees to improve the landscaping.

She went on leave at midsummer, needing more time for herself as the first anniversary drew near. The support of both sides of her family and many friends helps get her through.

Even as she moves forward, she still hears echoes of her life with Bob. She remembers the day they were in the car, not long before the attack, excited about getting the new house, happy with their careers and hopeful for the future.

"He said, 'We won, Kate. We won. How can you beat what we have?' He was so satisfied with life," McPadden said. "He was so happy. I have to hold onto that, because he was complete."