It was a love story that began on Roseann Sdoia’s darkest day.
On the day of the bombing in April 2013, Sdoia, 48, a long-distance runner, was a spectator near the marathon finish line when the pressure-cooker bombs went off.
“I remember coming to on the ground,” she says. Her shredded lower right leg was tucked underneath her with blood pouring from her right knee. Did she have a lower right leg anymore? She saw an ankle in front of her, with a sock on it, and she thought, I’m not wearing socks, so that’s not my ankle.
“I remember people running by and thinking, No one is stopping to help me. I’m going to die here. My head was echoing so much from the blast, and I was trying to yell for help, but it was like those yells in your dreams, where nothing comes out.”
Firefighter Mike Materia, 37, heard her yelling and rushed to her aid and comforted her during the ride to Massachusetts General Hospital in a police vehicle made for transporting prisoners because all of the ambulances were occupied.
“I asked him if I was going to die. And he told me that I was going to be OK, that I only had a flesh wound,” she recalled.
She was immediately sent into surgery for amputation of the leg.
Mike the “handsome” firefighter returned to the hospital the following day since he was forced to leave Roseanne to return to the scene. He returned for the sole purpose of checking on a girl named Roseanne who probably had an amputated leg, the nurses directed him, and he found who he was looking for.
She spent the next week in agony, anger, and under the influence of many pharmaceuticals. As she was laid up with an amputated leg in the wake of the bombing and the reality of the situation boggling around her mind, love was the last thing on her brain. And do we blame her?
It wasn’t even Roseann or Mike who initiative the spark between the two, it was Roseann’s Mother.
Mike spent the following weeks checking in on her while she was in the ICU and warmed up to her Mom in the process, who vouched for him during a time when love was not a priority.
“In the hospital, my mom tried to set me up with him,” Sdoia said.
“She was like, ‘Oh, did you see that firefighter? He’s so cute.’ And I was like, ‘Mom, I just got blown up.”
As weeks passed, the pair struck up a friendship. Materia helped her track down a prosthetist and get back on her feet emotionally and physically, she said. The ultimate gentlemen who followed the perfect formula to winning a girl’s heart: winning her Mother’s heart first.
“I was probably not the nicest to him from the get-go. I was in pain. But now we laugh and blame it on the morphine,” Sdoia said. “He’s seen me on my worst day. I knew I was starting to have feelings for him because he was so kind and caring, and he has an unbelievable smile.”
The duo went on their first date in June 2013. A month later, they spent the Fourth of July on Nantucket. And in December of 2016, he proposed on a lookout deck at the island’s whaling museum with the help of their pooch, Sal. The dog was wearing a special engraved dog tag that read, “Mike wants to know . . . If you’ll marry him.”
“Sal means so much to both of us,” she said. “It couldn’t have been more romantic.”
The couple now plans to have a small wedding this fall.
They also are releasing a book titled “Perfect Strangers” in March, a story about four strangers who’s lives intertwined for the better on that unfortunate day.