He stopped taking narcotic painkillers and began training again, bulking up and regaining his stamina, he says. He is trying to kick a heavy smoking habit.
Like the Nordens, he is still recuperating from injuries. His left eardrum is gone; he faces surgery on it. His legs contain metal from the bomb. Doctors have asked him to mark the pieces wherever he finds them. Clowery bought a magnet that he rolls up and down his legs. When it pauses or sticks, he marks the spot.
“That thing did a lot of damage,” he says. “. . . I don’t want any part of it in me. If I can get it all out, I will.”
The bombing brought Clowery in contact with the powerful, rich and famous, people he never would have met, people who can achieve change in the world, he says. Among them is first lady Michelle Obama, who has heard about his plan.
“The little things don’t bother me anymore, like they did,” he says. “They never will. And my goal is to show people the endless seconds of good.”
A mother’s worries
It is Labor Day in Liz Norden’s second-floor apartment in a modest section of Wakefield, a small town a few miles north of Boston. A heavy, gray sky presses down, alternately spitting drizzle on the windows and pelting them with hard rain.
Before the attack, this would have been a holiday for the Norden brothers, laborers in the truest sense of the word. Paul, a roofer, attached sheet metal to buildings. J.P. drove a truck for the roofing company. They are unsure how they will earn a living once their wounds heal.
Today Liz is doing what she has done nearly full time since her cellphone rang at 3:05 p.m. on April 15: worrying about the eldest two of her five children. It was Paul on the cellphone, calling from the marathon finish line area. “Ma, I’m hurt bad, and I can’t find J.P. or Jacqui,” he told her, referring to his longtime girlfriend, who was also injured by flying metal.
Liz is preoccupied with J.P.’s surgery, scheduled for the next day, but the reality of the family’s post-attack life is never far away. She shows a visitor a cellphone video of the moments immediately after the blast. J.P.’s leg is clearly severed. Paul, dazed, probably in shock, is sitting against a wall, looking around as first responders tend to him.
The brothers are living with her and a third son, Jonathan, 28, who would have been at the marathon if he had awakened in time. Liz also has two daughters and a granddaughter. She had J.P. at 17, she says, and raised her children in Stoneham’s “projects” with a largely absent father.
J.P. talks freely about his difficulties, she says. Paul is quieter, but she feels him seething. J.P. can’t yet negotiate the two flights of stairs up to his third-floor bedroom. Two donated chairlifts take him there. For Paul, a shower is a lengthy ordeal; his prosthesis must be kept dry. Above-the-knee amputations like his are much more difficult, according to experts.