From The Sun Magazine: Rebecca Levenberg’s “First Impressions.”

posted in: Art, Day In The Life, Tips 12
Log Cabin quilt block. Block and photo: Me.
Log Cabin quilt block. Block and photo: Me.

One of the magazines I subscribe to is The Sun. It’s primarily non-fiction writing, photography, and fascinating (long, yay) interviews with anthropologists, artists, authors, and other interesting human beings.

And then there’s this feature toward the back called “Readers Write.” The editors give a one- or two-word prompt and readers send in their brief story (100-400 words or so) or anecdote relating to the prompt. (Upcoming prompts include “Losing,” “That Night,” “Mischief,” and “Bad Habits.”)

The contributions are always incredible: real, sad, hilarious, true. The Readers Write prompt for this month’s issue was “First Impressions.” On the plane to Kansas last night, I read one of the best submissions ever.

If I get in trouble with the magazine for posting this, I’ll take it down. But for now, please read this piece by one Ms. Rebecca Levenberg from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was a pleasure to type up your story, Ms. Levenberg; thank you for writing it and congrats for being published.

“Six years ago I was hit by a truck while riding my bicycle to work, and I had to have my leg amputated. At the rehabilitation hospital I was assigned a peer mentor. Rob was the first amputee I’d ever met. When he offered to answer my questions, I had none. I was riddled with pain from a limb that wasn’t there and overwhelmed by the change to my body. Though I felt obligated to listen to Rob, really I just wanted him to leave.

The one thing I remember about that meeting is that Rob had oe by on his way home from the gym, where he went in the evenings after work. Rob went to the gym. Rob went to work. Rob was an amputee. This information gave me hope.

Over the next year I learned to walk with a prosthetic leg. The second year brought more independence, and I went back to work and to the gym.

That summer a man waved me down on a city sidewalk. “Can I ask you a question?” he said, eyes fixed on my prosthesis. Sure, I replied. His voice got quiet. “Were you born that way?” Were you born without your leg?”

I told him no, that I’d had my leg amputated after an accident. I wondered why he was asking: he had all four limbs.

The man pointed to a nearby hospital and explained that his wife had just had a baby boy born without part of his arm. “The doctor said he’ll never know the difference,” he told me. “Do you think that’s true? Do you think he’ll never know?”

What could I say? I had no idea. We talked a bit more, and I asked if the baby was healthy. The man said yes.

“Congratulations,” I said. “What’s his name?”

He told me, and for the first time since we’d begun talking, I saw a proud dad.

After we’d parted, I realized that I was probably the first amputee he’d ever met. Walking away, I stood tall and confident, just in case he was watching.”

12 Responses

  1. Judy Hart
    | Reply

    Wow, what an experience for both of them.

  2. Ann Bailey
    | Reply

    Gorgeous! Wow! Thank you, Mary. People are so good (for the most part).

  3. Linda Snodgrass
    | Reply

    This magazine is a treasure. Years ago I cut out a small few paragraph story called Dinosaur by Bruce Holland Rogers. I put it on the bulletin board by my sewing machine. I read it again every now and then. It always makes me smile and touches my heart.

  4. Lila
    | Reply

    Beautiful, I burst into tears reading this.

  5. Kari
    | Reply

    I also subscribe to the Sun and the Readers Write is my favorite part!

  6. tierneycreates
    | Reply

    I love the Sun Magazine, I had submitted one of my works to them (but alas it was rejected). This was a beautiful story they published that you shared.

  7. Tracy
    | Reply

    What a lovely story!

  8. […] may have noticed the past few posts offer scanned-in quilt blocks as the featured image. What can it […]

  9. Rebecca
    | Reply

    Hello Mary! I just found this post on your blog, and I am so, so flattered that you included it! Thank you so much for all your kind words — and the comments from your readers! I am a huge fan of The Sun, and I was honored to have a piece chosen for the Readers Write section. Your blog post absolutely made my day! Coincidentally, the day you posted it (11/10/16) was the 6-year anniversary of the day I had my leg amputated. I’m always searching for good things to come out of that day! If you or your readers would like to stay in touch, you can find me at my-1000-miles.blogspot.com. Thanks again for sharing my story! I look forward to reading more of your posts. Write on! Rebecca

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Rebecca!! Way, way cool, girl. Thank *you.* I’ll check out the blog. xo, mary

  10. Marcie Weiler USS4
    | Reply

    I had Polio at the age of 3 1/3 MONTHS, striking me from the waist down. My much older 3 brothers cared for me but treated me like any little sister unless I’d had surgery or broken my leg. (One of the “fun” things you get with polio is one fragile bone, mine is my right femur.) I never knew I was different until I entered school and some of the “innocent” (my fat ass) children made fun of my walk. No the child will adapt far more quickly than the parents.

  11. Marcie Weiler
    | Reply

    I had Polio at the age of 3 1/3 MONTHS, striking me from the waist down. My much older 3 brothers cared for me but treated me like any little sister unless I’d had surgery or broken my leg. (One of the “fun” things you get with polio is one fragile bone, mine is my right femur.) I never knew I was different until I entered school and some of the “innocent” (my fat ass) children made fun of my walk. No the child will adapt far more quickly than the parents.

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