Lettie Sullivan answers the question:
What is the nicest thing a non-family member has ever done for you?
I would say the nicest thing that a non-family member did for me came at a time when I really, really could use that support. I didn't even see it coming really. I was in the hospital and I went in for routine surgery. They were removing my appendix and it was supposed to be a quick laparoscopic procedure, something that they do all the time. I had had some problems coming in, so I was seriously... I was unwell. And I came in to get surgery and there was a mistake. There was a medical mistake that happened and nobody would give me details.
I remember feeling so helpless because I'm talking to anyone who comes in my room, really, doctors, nurses, janitors, anybody just asking for information for details. Hours would go by and it just felt like what I had to say didn't matter, you know? That my life didn't matter. This was something that was, it was incredibly traumatizing for me.
Because sometimes when your standard of care is not up to par… I wanted to be compassionate and empathetic, but the truth of the matter is, is that there was a wholly different standard of care for me that had more to do with what my body looked like, what I looked like as a Black person, than anything else, right? Sometimes people want you to prove or point to a smoking gun, but I don't have that, but I do have this.
I was crying on the phone to a woman in my spiritual community that had called to see about me and see how I was doing. I was in tears and I said, "Nobody will talk to me. Nobody will tell me what's going on. They'll barely look me in the eye. I don't know what is going on. I feel helpless and I'm so angry."
She asked me which hospital I was at. I told her, and she said, "Did you know that the president of that hospital is a woman?"
I was like, "No, I didn't know that actually."
She's like, "Yeah, she's my next-door neighbor. I'm going to tell her what's going on with you."
She called and she sent an email to her neighbor, who was the president of the hospital.
Let me tell you something, my care changed overnight. Immediately, people were coming into my room like, "Oh, Ms. Sullivan, let me explain to you everything that's going on with your case, these are the options." The people that were working on my case weren't the regular doctors anymore, they were actually the head of the departments. And they were coming in and they were explaining things to me, teaching their residents and things like that. It was a completely different standard of care when I got vouched for, when my life was vouched for, by someone that they respected or had to answer to.
I'm forever, forever grateful to my dear sister Carol for making that phone call for me. She extended her privilege to me — that was a privilege by proximity for me, and and my whole experience in the hospital and the aftermath and everything was changed but beyond that, from that point on, from that point forward, and I just never forgot that. It was the most generous… but also very revealing about the hospital systems. That was my experience.
Lettie Sullivan is a priestess in the 13 Moon Lineage and the Creatrix of the Goddess Ministry, an organization whose mission is to anchor spiritual practices centered in the Divine Feminine archetypes, metaphysical principles, and natural and cosmic time cycles.
She is also a professional organizer with 15 years in private practice, an inspirational speaker, life coach, and author. Her recent essay appears in the anthology Ancient Future Unity: Reclaim Your Roots, Liberate Your Lineage, Live a Legacy of Love.
Lettie is a senior priestess and mentor in Priestess Presence, an online temple space with more than 19,000 members, and has held a series of ritual events to heal racial trauma and amplify love.