Deon Brown, Gleaner Writer
THE MISSING faces of loved ones lost on September 11 are being remembered in the smiles and special expressions of those who survived them.
At 10 years old, going on 11, Kayla Richards is the living image of her mother, Venesha Richards, a Jamaican who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11.
"She's a mini Venesha," her dad Hopeton Richards, also a Jamaican, says laughingly. "In every sense!" he adds emphatically. "She has nothing for me. Kayla has everything for her. She reminds me of her mom a lot."
The conversation was being conducted by phone, but even over the airwaves you could feel the glow and pride conveyed in the statement.
Watching his only child grow and take on even more of her mother's physical features has been a source of comfort for the father whose 26-year-old wife perished. They had been married for a mere three years, with an 11-month-old at the time. From that day on, Kayla became his world.
Bumpy dating period
For a few years, Richards stayed at home to raise his baby girl and the two became so inseparable that he admitted it was a bumpy period for her when he eventually started dating again several years later. The two of them had been a team for so long.
"She was very attached to me and we had a few problems when I started dating, but all of that has since been straightened out," he says. "Now she's striving, doing very well in school, and getting along with my new wife."
He remarried two years ago and relocated from North Brunswick, New Jersey, where he'd lived with his first wife, to South Jersey where he is now working in real estate.
Kayla entered fifth grade this September. She is a delightful child who loves to dance and has been recognised for her talented performances at school.
From St Catherine
Venesha Richards, who grew up mainly in St Catherine, Jamaica, worked as a broker's claim representative with Marsh & McLennan on the 100th Floor of WTC One in New York City. She was also pursuing a business programme at Pace University, a few blocks from the World Trade Center.
While Richards has participated in the annual 9/11 observances at the World Trade Center in the past, this year, he says he is still not sure if he'll attend.
"Just being in the location is very difficult for me," he told The Sunday Gleaner. "It weighs you down. Each time you go, it brings up the hurt all over again and keeps it fresh in your mind."
For now, his focus is on Kayla, making sure she's emotionally healthy and has only beautiful memories of her wonderful mother who she lost on that fateful day.