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Voices for Recovery

Rick Bingham (06/10/2010)

Rick Bingham Voice

It was sometime in 2004 that I was delivering drug screen samples to the lab.  I went in the wrong door and walked down the wrong hallway.  At some point I passed by an open office, and in that office was a lady who was crying.  I noticed, but didn't stop.  Instead, I went to where I was supposed to be going.  On the way out, I made the same mistake in reverse.  I walked past that same office.  The lady was still crying.  I wouldn't stand it any longer.  So, I stuck my head into the office and asked, "Are you alright?"  In the midst of her tears she said, "I'm just fine."  I said, "You don't look just fine to me."  And so, for the next twenty minutes I listened to her story of pain and disappointment.  For the life of me, I was speechless.  Hard to believe, but I was totally stunned by her pain.  I couldn't think of a single helpful or inspiring word.   Then, she ran out of tissues.  I have always carried a bandana.  I reached for it and gave it to her.  This one was purple.  She offered to return it.  I said not to.  And then the words came to me.  I said, "No, please keep it and let it remind you of three things.  First, purple is the color of royalty.  You are a very special person.  Second, purple is the color of bruises.  Right now you are hurting.  And, you'll hurt again.  And third, purple is the color of healing.  You are going to heal.  You are going to recover." I didn't know it at the time, but this lady was four years clean from cocaine.  Narcotic Anonymous' official color is purple.  So, the tears began to flow again.  I have adopted purple as my official color of healing and recovery from everything.  The lady seemed to feel better.  I left.

About two months later, I was delivering specimens again.  And again I went in the wrong door.  As I was passing her office, she called to me to come in so we could talk.  She thanked me again for the bandana and informed me that I couldn't have it back, because she had it hung up near the front door of her apartment.  And she said this:  "It is the last thing I see when I am leaving for work in the mornings and first thing I see when I come home. It reminds me every day that I am a special person, that I am going to get hurt, and I am going to heal."  Wow!  Now, I was crying.

Something was going on that I wasn't in charge of.  Those words weren't my idea.  I came to believe that a higher power wanted me to do something, and I believed I knew what to do.  So, I gave the lady a hug and I left.  When I got back to my truck, I called by wife and said, "Don't try to understand this.  I'll try to explain later, but order me some purple bandanas."  She did, about six dozen.  So, for the past six years I've been carrying a purple bandana, telling the story, and giving away bandanas to folks I meet, wherever they may be, who look like they could use a little hope.  I have wonderful stories of those who have been blessed by such a simple expression of faith, hope, and expectation.  None have been more blessed than me.

P.S.  The lady's name is Lora.  We talk about once a month.  She's doing great!

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