Every time Roseann Sdoia comes home, she must climb 18 steps — six stairs into the building, 12 more to her apartment. It is an old building in Boston, with doors that are big and heavy, not an easy place for an amputee to live.
When she left the hospital, a month after the Boston Marathon bombing, she had a choice: She could find another place to live, one more suitable for someone who wears a prosthetic that replaces most of her right leg. Or, she could stay.
“Early on when all this happened, so many people were telling me to move out of the city and move out of my apartment because of the stairs and I don’t have an elevator and parking is not very convenient,” she said. “But I have been able to get past all of that.”
In that, she mirrors Boston itself.
“I have to tell you, honestly, Boston is a better city now than it was before,” said former Boston mayor Thomas Menino, who was in office during the April 15 attacks. “People learned how to deal with each other, they had to deal with a tragedy.”
Not that it has been easy.
Three people were killed at last year’s Boston Marathon, and more than 260 were injured, and the legacy of trauma and lost limbs remains — as does the shock of having endured a terrorist attack on a cherished “Marathon Monday.”
Nor can Bostonians forget the fear that gripped a city locked down in the midst of a manhunt, which ended in the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now 20. Tsarnaev, of Chechen origin, faces 30 federal charges in the attack he allegedly carried out with 26-year-old brother Tamerlan, who died in a shootout with police.
However, Boston has been able to get past all of that. Copley Square, where bombs went off at the finish line, is no longer littered with impromptu tributes to the dead and injured; they are now on display in an exhibit at the Boston Public Library.
Sdoia is 46 years old, a vice president of property management for a Boston development company. She is a cheerful woman; she smiles broadly when she arrives at a hospital for physical therapy.
“It’s just my nature,” she said. “I’m not a negative person.”
Still, she says, she cries every day.
“What is sinking in is that life has changed,” she said, her face awash with tears.
Sdoia is a runner, but she did not take part in the marathon. She was at the finish line, rooting for friends in the race, when the second bomb went off. Aside from her leg injury, she suffered hearing loss.
“Other than losing the bottom of my right leg, I’m still me,” she said.
And yet, so much has changed. She had to take more leave from the job she loved. Winter and snow were tough to handle. She has had to tackle daily tasks — showering, vacuuming — differently.
Marc Fucarile, a 35-year-old roofer, also lost his right leg from above the knee; he has shrapnel in his heart, and still could lose his left leg.
“Everything has changed,” he said. “How I use the bathroom, how I shower, how I brush my teeth, how I get in and out of bed.”