Mery Daniel couldn't wait for Marathon Monday. It was one of the things the aspiring doctor and Haitian immigrant loved most about living in Boston.
"I was waiting patiently for that day," says Mery, sitting on a park bench in Boston's South End. "Last year I went (to the Boston marathon) and I had so much fun. So I wanted to go again this year."
Hundreds of people were crowded around the race's end point on April 15 around 2:50 p.m. when evil unfolded.
"I was at the finish line. The moment I got there, that was when I heard the blast," Mery says.
Authorities accuse brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of setting off a pair of bombs just seconds apart near the finish line of the packed course on Boylston Street. Three people were killed and more than 260, including Mery, were injured.
"I didn't realize I was losing my leg because it happened so fast," Mery said, recounting the horrific events of that day.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed four days later in a shootout with police, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, was captured and charged with 30 federal counts stemming from the attack. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
After the bombs exploded, Mery was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital with severe injuries to her lower limbs. She recalls asking doctors in the emergency room to save her leg, but they couldn't. Not only were doctors fighting to save Mery's left leg -- they were fighting to save her life. Her heart stopped twice during surgery. She was in a coma for three days. At just 31, she's been to hell and back.
When she woke up, Mery says, "I just looked up and my leg wasn't there anymore. I wasn't part of the decision process -- it just wasn't there anymore."
Her left leg was amputated above the knee. Her right leg was spared, but it was severely mangled from the explosion and she lost a significant portion of her right calf. "I didn't really go through that mind frame like, 'I'm losing my leg and how am I supposed to react or how am I supposed to respond to it'... So it did surprise me how much I handled it."
Mery said an inner strength emerged when she least expected it. "Sometimes, you don't know the limits of how far you can go until you're tested."
Two victims lost both of their legs in the bombings. Fourteen others lost one leg. Waking up to realize you've suddenly lost a limb can be devastating. While the body heals and adapts, doctors agree that the recovery of the mind can be a bigger challenge.
The Boston Marathon bombings changed the lives of hundreds of people. Mery Daniel lost her left leg in the Boston Marathon bombings, but not her will to live. She's learning to adjust to a prosthetic leg and a new life.