Over Thanksgiving weekend, my children, my husband and I were talking about sleepovers. My son asked if I liked them and/or if I was ever scared to sleep somewhere else. It was seemingly innocuous question. Yet it caused the flash of a memory that I hadn’t thought about in a longtime. It was almost movie like. The memory was so vivid, and the emotions it conjured were so real. So real I wanted to tell the kids all about it. This is what I told them…
There was one time that I was afraid from being away from home. As you know, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease when I was a senior in College. I was operated on around mid-December, and Christmas break was coming up. It wasn’t easy or quick, but I made the decision to stay in Boston, and have the treatments there. Away from my family. The dorms would be closed for the holiday, so I needed to find a place to live for the month. I guess I could have stayed in a hotel, but I didn’t want to be totally alone. There was this other college senior I worked with at Copperfield’s. Her name was Nannette Stueck, and we worked together at a bar between B.U. campus and Northeastern (where she went). She and her boyfriend (now husband) Scott all worked together, and we had become somewhat friendly. When I told her what was going on, she immediately offered me a place to stay for the month. Her roommates would be going home for the break, and she didn’t want me to be alone for the holidays. A single selfless act…
I was touched by her invitation, and moved in the next day, because two days later I was to start treatment. I woke up at 5 a.m. and travelled via Trolley, then train to get to the hospital. It was bitter cold, and dark, but I went. After about 2 weeks, I began to feel the side effects of treatment. Initially, food became tasteless. Everything I ate scratched my tongue and throat. It was like swallowing extra course sandpaper. Nannette decided to spend a day trying to cook different things that I could eat. She made puddings, and jello’s and just a whole bunch of stuff. It was unbelievably sweet.
A week later, I woke up because I felt a draft on my neck. It was about 4 in the morning. I got up and checked the window, but it was closed. I checked the door to my rom, but it too was closed. I couldn’t figure out what it was, but it was almost time to get up anyway, so I went to switch on the light to the room. It was then that I realized why I felt the draft, and I began to weep. There, on the pillow, was a thick clump of my hair. I couldn’t imagine that it would fall out like this. But there it was Nanette must have heard me crying. She came into my room and sat with me. Told me you could hardly tell. I knew she was lying, but she said it in a way that made us both laugh.
Nannette Stueck was my hero then. She made me laugh and forget what I was going through! Most people thought my decision to stay in Boston to get treatments was odd, at best. But I knew I would never have gone back to finish my degree if I left. I needed to continue, to go on as though nothing was wrong. Because the alternative was that everything would stop. My college career, and my life…And Nannette got that. She saw I was right to do it, and made that month okay…Fun even!
It has been years since Nannette and I were in contact. With Facebook, I have hoped that I would find her over the years. I try. I put her name in, but nothing comes up. So Nannette Stueck of Ridgefield, Ct who is married to Scott from Sudbury, Mass (maybe Swampscott…I don’t exactly remember where in Ma. Scott was from. Though I do remember the gorgeous church you got married in). Because of you, I put every effort out to help others; whether I know them or not. It is a truly fulfilling feeling to help others. I thank you for introducing that to me!
Nannette, I hope you are well and happy! I would love to find you, but understand that I may not. I want you to know that I tell my kids about your kindness all the time! I hope to one day say THANK YOU in person! Your selfless act o kindness changed me forever.