Connecting with Amanda

pianoThe following piece is a recent reflection from a CASA volunteer.

How do I as a CASA “connect” with a troubled teen ?

A year ago, I began advocating for a 15 year old teen girl. I’ll call her Amanda. The trauma this young woman went through was, as her lawyer said, “the worst situation he had seen in his 20 plus years working these kinds of cases.” Many aspects of Amanda’s past were so horrific that even a Hollywood producer would reject the story as unbelievable.

How do I connect? One could “feel” that Amanda wanted to express herself. She read me poems she had written, showed me some of her artwork, and said she liked to play the piano. “Piano?” I asked. “I play piano, is there a piano here that I could hear you play?”

The residential facility we were at had a piano in the recreation room. Amanda played, and oh my…I must hold back my tears recalling this first time I heard her play…she is good!!! She just “feels” the music.

At the next visit we played piano together.

One afternoon, several months later, Amanda and I went for a walk. We stopped in for a soda at a restaurant where I sometimes play piano. I asked if it was OK for her to play a song or two. When Amanda started to play, the patrons at the restaurant stopped their conversations to listen. It is so cool when one experiences a musician expressing themselves.

I wish this situation had a story book ending. It does not. Amanda had many issues with running away, not attending school, altercations with the police, and continued family traumas. She moved away from Lane County, and her case was closed.

I often wonder how Amanda is doing. The severity of issues she is dealing with are paramount. The odds are not in her favor. However, she and I shared a “slice of life” with music. Maybe, just maybe, Amanda’s music will be an emotional tool for her to navigate to a better place.