“I must admit, it still hurts. Every day, I feel it a bit, in my legs, arms, and face. I wanna scream but I just sigh and sit down – I guess I’ve gotten used to it.”
I must admit, it still hurts. Every day, I feel it a bit, in my legs, arms, and face. I wanna scream but I just sigh and sit down – I guess I’ve gotten used to it.
What am I talking about? Let me introduce myself. I am Rebecca Lugeva, and I am currently 78 years old. This is my story of how I got to where I am today.
July 16th, 1946
Right now I am nine. I lived in Turnsdale, Ohio and loved farming with my father, Bill. We were going to Florida where we were going on a rollercoaster past live lions! I was so excited!
We arrived in Florida at noon, a bright sun shining on me. I couldn’t wait to see those beautiful lions! As we arrived at the front gates, we were greeted by a tall man in a bright green outfit.
“Greetings family of Lugeva, we have been expecting you!” he said, as Father gave him some money. “Today we will be doing a beautiful tour of trained lions, so do not worry. And, as always, don’t lean out of the roller coaster.”
Filled with excitement, my family and I boarded the coaster, the man in green getting in the driver’s seat. I wonder what colors the lions are, I thought. Soon the engine roared to life and the roller coaster slowly took off, making a chugga-chugga sound. Soon, we were in a wonderful plains with a bunch of large, brown lions.
“They’re fabulous!” I cried out.
I leaned out to see them closer. At last minute I remember what the man in green had said: “Don’t lean out of the roller coaster.”
But it was too late. I fell off, landing on the grass. Then, I saw a lion charge at me, and everything went black.
July 20th, 1946
I woke up in a gray bed. It was long and uncomfortable. I noticed Father and Mother standing over me.
“You’re awake!” called Mother.
“W-what happened?” I asked groggily.
“You were bitten by a lion,” Father said. “Dumb Park Ranger! He said they were trained! You were in a coma for four days. We were very worried. Luckily the doctors have helped a lot.”
September 5th, 1953
Now, as I am 18, it is affecting my life greatly. The scars all over me made people afraid of me. It hurts all the time. And today, I was sick of it.
I stared at my college roommate, the only person who supports me. Her name was Melissa Termella.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Just thinking back to the incident.”
“Don’t!” she said. “That’s the past. Think about this moment.”
December 31, 1957
After college, Melissa and I stayed in touch. I moved into a small house in Ohio, my home state. I tried to get back into farming – maybe that will make me happier. Nope. The farming motions just made the pain worse. I told Melissa this, and she decided to help me.
“What do you mean, help?” I asked over the telephone.
“I’ll come over tomorrow. You’ll see.”
January 1, 1958
“Happy new year,” said Melissa as she entered my house.
“To you too,” I said, then grunted; my scars hurt as I closed the door.
I led my only friend into the living room, where we sat down on my soft chairs. Melissa began to speak.
“So…lets start,” she said, “I am going to help you lighten your spirits. The more happy you are, the better your scars will get.”
I sighed, “Okay. Lets start.”
“Good,” Melissa said. “First, what is your favorite thing to do?”
“Farming. That didn’t work.”
“Ah! Don’t say that. We’re going now.”
“What – ?”
“Do you trust me?”
“Then come on.”
With a large smile on her face, she ran out of the living room and into the backyard. I ran after her, so confused, that I momentarily forgot my pain.
“What are you doing?!” I asked, when we were both outside.
“I’m farming, genius!” Melissa said as she picked up a shovel and hoe.
She began to dig. All she was doing was digging, occasionally looking into the holes she was digging.
“You don’t know how to farm, do you? I laughed.
“No clue,” Melissa said, as she turned to me. “But you do! Get over here.”
I jogged over and picked up the shovel, “This, is how the master does her thing.”
I leaned down to the grass and got so into my farming and planting, I forgot about the scars, the lion, everything…
“Jeez,” said Melissa. “You’re great!”
In ten minutes, a new plant was beginning to sprout.
“Boom!” I said. “How’s that?”
“I’m better at teaching,” shrugged Melissa.
We smiled and went inside. We walked over to the front door, and Melissa turned to me.
“I guess I’ll be going,” she said. “Think about what we did. Did you even feel those scars while you farmed?”
“Great,” she said happily. “I’ll be back in two days.”
May 7, 1960
Now, three years later, Melissa is still teaching me, and I am very grateful for her. I relate myself to the plants I farm – getting taller and taller, better and better, as time goes on.
My scars are getting much better. Farming is getting more fun than it ever was. And I am closely listening to everything Melissa teaches me about: social skills, chatting skills, distractions, and more. Where would I be if I had gone to a different college? Thank goodness I found her–I might still be that secluded woman who weeps all the time.
Every year on Melissa’s birthday I go to her house, hug her, and tell her how thankful I am for her. And the hugging does not hurt my scars.
April 17th, 2015
Ah, present day. As I said, it still hurts. But not nearly as much as it used to. I am old, so that might make it worse. But I’m happy now. I think of Melissa who I still see sometimes. I have a nice husband named Rick and I have learned to be super thankful. I never took Thanksgiving “thankful speech” seriously–until I met Melissa.
Thank you for reading my story. Maybe I can inspire you to rise up and be a hero.