23-year-old Alysia Basmajian and her husband, Anthony, used to marvel to each other that they lived their lives in fast forward. They became parents at 21, just before the start of their senior year at the College of William and Mary, when their daughter, Kaela, was born. They graduated in May 2000, were married in June that year, and found jobs in Manhattan — he on the floor of the stock exchange, she as a staff accountant at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 101st floor of the World Trade Center's North Tower.
In the summer of 2001, Alysia and Anthony's pace seemed to have finally slowed. They moved into an apartment in Bayonne, New Jersey, in August. For Kaela's second birthday, on September 2nd, the little girl received her first bike; the family spent the day in the park.
One of the first things people remember about Alysia was her smile. Alysia possessed a contagious smile, one that made everyone around her smile. Coupled with her compassionate personality, Alysia was one of those rare people we meet in life; a person who makes the lives of those around her better and happier. Alysia's drive to realize her dreams was matched by her intense love for her family. Her life was centered around the people closest to her. Her true passion in life was art, and she found painting as a ready means of self-expression.
At about the time they moved, Anthony said, the couple found a list of life's major stresses and realized that they had done nearly everything on the list within the previous 18 months. "We'd gotten married, graduated, had a child, found jobs, moved to a new city," he said. "It was stressful, but we faced it together."
Alysia's grandmother, Sunbary, can recall the morning of September 11th with vivid precision. It was her 83rd birthday and she slept in, not rising until after the Twin Towers had been destroyed. Knowing nothing yet about the attacks, she turned on the television and watched in horror as footage of the disaster was replayed again and again. "I knew Alysia was gone as soon as I saw the news," she said. "I still can't believe that they took my beautiful granddaughter away from me."