"God didn't let me fall on the floor," she says.
She was scooped up under her arms by a churchgoer and taken outside.
Later, with her 15-year-old sister Janie beside her, "I asked where Addie was. She said Addie hurt her back and was going to come visit me tomorrow," Sarah remembers. "She didn't want me to be upset." She learned the truth when she overheard Janie telling a nurse that Addie had been killed. For more than two months she remained in the hospital and cried for Addie.
She lost sight in her right eye, and would later have to have it replaced with a prosthetic. Her left eye still has a piece of glass in it, but she says it doesn't hurt. She developed glaucoma as a teenager, but thanks to the right doctor and glasses she says she sees out of it just fine.
When she got home, she says her mother was too torn up about Addie to focus on her. Instead, Janie stepped in.
Sarah's face had been peppered with glass. Another piece had lodged in her chest. Doctors removed what they could, but there was more.
"She'd pick glass from my face when it rose to the surface," Sarah says.
Strangers didn't reach out to comfort or hug her, she says. She wonders if her scarred appearance frightened them. She missed months of school, fell behind and when she came back she said one of her teachers had little patience for her.
"I was feeling like I was dead on the inside because of how I was treated," she says.
The feeling of being overlooked -- by strangers, teachers, those who might have been in a position to help her -- stuck with Sarah.
No one at home talked about the bombing.
Her family struggled. Her father, who died in 1967, bused tables in a Chinese restaurant while her mother worked as a housekeeper. Up until Addie was gone, Sarah shared a bed with three sisters -- "two at the head, and two at the feet," she says.
Sarah didn't grow up surrounded by the sorts of role models the McNair, Robertson and Wesley sisters had. Even so, she says she dreamed of becoming a nurse. Addie, who loved drawing, would have been an artist, she says.
Their mother was a committed churchgoer. They went to 16th Street Baptist Church and sang in the choir. But when it reopened about nine months later, Sarah couldn't stand being inside. While the other victims' families found comfort there, within two or three weeks Sarah's family stopped going.
She never did get counseling and thinks it's too late for that. She would later turn to alcohol and marijuana to dull the pain. Neither made her hurt less.
"I had to get saved," says Sarah, 62, who finished high school, spent years casting metal in a foundry and now is a housekeeper. "The only thing that helped me was getting closer to God," which she did in 1986.
She had two failed marriages and wasn't able to have children.
"Mama said I was never going to have kids," she says, "because I still have glass in my stomach."
On her birthday in 2000, she married George Rudolph, a man she had gone to high school with years before. He still cries when he hears her testimony.
The coffee table in their living room is littered with memorabilia. Articles from over the years, some yellowed, sit in a pile. Books about the civil rights era are in balanced stacks. She opens one to show an old black-and-white photograph of herself in a hospital bed, the bandages still covering her eyes. Amid these historical footnotes are certificates of appreciation, a key to a city, a silver cup from a university -- all meant to honor who she is.
These things, though, are mere tokens. No matter the happiness she's found with George and the salvation she found in the Lord, at times Sarah still simmers.
She's moved through life feeling forgotten. She testified at all three murder trials, but objects to the fact that there was never a trial for the attempted murder of her.
Doug Jones, who prosecuted the last two trials, praised the significance of Sarah's testimony. But he said the statute of limitations for attempted murder had long passed by the time the state reopened the investigation in 1971.
Sarah also resents that strangers benefit from her sister's death -- scholarships are given in the four girls' names -- while she says she's gotten nothing.
"You'd think they'd do something for the living, but the dead get more, I'll tell you that," she says.