Constancy, guts, unwavering determination – these were on my mind when I greeted Paula, a parent at one of our Oakland schools. Her family danced with Luna several years ago at a residential recovery center where we bring MPACT (Moving Parents and Children Together).
Six years ago, Teresa was dancing with her foster mother at a community site while waiting to be reunified with her birth mother. A season or two later, we met up with her again—this time dancing with her birth mother at a residential center. Dance was the way they were able to reconnect.
During those MPACT sessions, Paula was pregnant and gave birth to her son Justin. She was joyfully dancing with both of her kids the week after he was born. Justin was snuggled close in a baby carrier while Paula held on to Teresa ‘s hands twirling, rocking and gliding. Paula and her children danced with us throughout her recovery and once she left the center they came to free family dance classes at the Luna studio. We ran into each other occasionally when she came to visit staff at the residential center–both children in tow. She always greeted me with a huge hug and let me know that she was adjusting well to life outside of the residential center.
After not seeing this family for a couple of years I was thrilled to meet them again at one of our school sites. Last year, Patricia and I taught her daughter, Teresa in a fourth grade class; and Amelia taught her son during his weekly transitional Kindergarten dance class. After a few weeks of teaching, Teresa ran up to me while I was putting dance supplies away and pulled me towards her mother. Paula gave me a huge hug and ran to get her son to meet me. Of course, he did not remember me, but stared at me with wide open eyes as I crouched down low to say “hi”. Paula said, “This is my friend Nancy, she knew you when you were a baby.” Then she introduced me to her fiancé who was standing right next to her—he greeted me with a firm handshake and smile.