Thursday, May 4, 2023

The Kindness of Shaun Buck from Newsletter Pro

My phone rang and I froze. “Shaun Buck’s” name paraded across the screen, but it took a moment to answer. How do you possibly say “thank you” to someone who’s moved mountains in your life?

“Hello, Shaun?” I finally said, answering the call.
“Elisa! I’m so glad we can talk.”
But my voice faltered, and I found myself back in that horrid hospital room in 2020. A doctor unceremoniously told me I would die soon. Family could hardly visit (one hour a day, one person at a time) because of COVID-19. That particular day—when doctors relayed my fate—I sat staring out a sterile window, stressing about bills. Mike had taken a month off—unpaid—to help the kids with school, emotions, and pretty much everything. I worked remotely from my hospital room, but I couldn’t possibly edit 40 hours a week, not after getting a cancerous vertebra removed! Mike returned to work and even took on side jobs, but we couldn’t seem to catch up, and I didn’t think I could continue treatments let alone pay regular bills.
My hours dropped to between 20–30 a week. Nurses would laugh when they came in to get my vitals. “Are you seriously working from your hospital room?” one lady asked. I’d donned a fancy shirt over my hospital gown and IVs, so coworkers wouldn’t suspect my true attire—or location—on Zoom calls.
“I …” A deep breath of air gave me courage and brought me back to the moment. “I … wanted to say thank you, Shaun. I’m gonna try not to cry. But what you did for my family, well, it changed our lives.”
“It wasn’t anything,” he said.
I scoffed. “You have no idea how stressed I was. I tried working full time, but I couldn’t, not with my health. We needed the money so badly. And then … you swooped in and paid me for full time—for months and months—even though you knew I could never pay it back. I tried, just because I wanted to be worth it, but God knows I couldn’t. And then, you didn’t even care. Management said you just did it to help, even though I’m sure times were hard for everyone during the peak of COVID.”
“It’s just money,” he said. “And I wanted to help. Really. People told me about you and your family. They said you’re really good people. They said YOU are a good person.”
I’d never spoken to Shaun directly before that call. I messaged him once, thanking him in 2021, but I didn’t dare call. Shaun is a big deal. He’s extremely successful with amazing connections and the kind of marketing skills any entrepreneur would envy. I guess that’s why people hire him to help grow businesses through magazines and newsletters. He uses personalized stories to help customers become fully invested not just in products, brands, and services but also in the people behind them.
I shook my head. I couldn’t believe this benevolent man had called ME a good person. I didn’t even land on the scale compared to him.
“Why did you do it?” I finally blurted.
“Well, I still remember where I was when I heard about your diagnosis. You’d started working for the company in June, and you found out about the cancer in October. I was going through a pretty hard time myself. It was … really rough—but nothing compared to what happened to you.”
I knew Shaun had gotten divorced, but I didn’t know the details except he loves his boys more than life itself. It’s true that divorce is hard; it can feel daunting for even the most capable of people. His story fully captivated me, and I couldn’t help but gasp. “I’m so sorry you went through that,” I said.
“Hey, it’s okay. But like I said, it was bad, but then I heard about you. Even though I didn’t know you, I pretty much did—because other people had told me about you. And I wanted to help.” Then he paused, and I felt a shift in the conversation. “Elisa, you just have to get better. I can’t wait to talk with you in two years and hear how you’re cancer free and able to walk well. You’ve gotta believe it.” So much emotion filled his words that I found tears brimming my eyes.
“It wasn’t just money to us,” I sobbed. “It helped us keep a semblance of normalcy for the kids. I’ll be forever grateful for what you did.”
After the call ended, I thought about what a blessing it’s been to work for Newsletter Pro for the past three years. I reveled in perfecting articles about history, current events, life hacks, food—and almost anything you can imagine!
“I loved my job,” I told Amber, the director of client operations, “because NLP has the best employees—and editing every day gave me an added purpose. It’s so hard giving up this part of my life.”
“We all love you,” she said, and I knew she really felt empathy for what my family and I are experiencing with the advent of this new tumor. “We’ve been honored to have you as a team member. And I wanted to let you know that Shaun has decided to give you the work laptop.”
“What?! Why—I mean … What?!” Had I heard her right? I rested my hands on the keyboard and stared at it. It’s a top-of-the-line MacBook Air with fancy editing programs and fonts! It’s so fast and new that it makes my personal computer look like a 100-year-old with a walker, dentures, cataracts, AND a diaper!
“I’ve gotta pay for this!”
“Just enjoy it.” She laughed. “You being a part of the team—and bringing positivity to all of us—has been more than enough payment.”
So, I had my last official day of work on Monday, just in time to prepare for my new radiation journey that has followed. I’m writing this on my beautiful, flawless, AMAZING laptop, and my soul is filled with such gratitude right now. I still don’t fully understand why Shaun decided to do these kind things for me and my family, but I do know that every time I use this computer, I’ll think of the good people in this world and be grateful to still be alive, experiencing the joy and wonder of a life well lived. I really am the luckiest.

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