In my career with Carnival Cruise Lines, we hosted endless deck parties. I once joked that if I never did the Cupid Shuffle again, I’d be just fine. I was wrong. Very wrong.
Four of us represented Melody’s cruise family at her celebration of life. Many others wanted to be there, we did our best to share the ship love. Brandon, in true Cruise Director fashion, got on the mic. “We do this over and over again on the ships. Now you get to do the Cupid Shuffle with us.” Wearing Mel’s requested “50 shades of white” from earlier, many rose from their chairs. “All you have to do is count to four,” I showed the cluster holding pineapple-topped-drinks near me. As I saw their moves click, a familiar joy rushed through me. “Now kick, now kick, now come on baby kick.” Dancing in the middle of Mel’s favorite Hawaiian restaurant, people cried and laughed. We simultaneously grieved and surrendered to the celebration of her life.
One of Mel’s many cousins grabbed me. “I always wanted to cruise with her. To see her in action. This is like getting to be on the ships—to see what it was like.” I heard similar comments: “I lived through Melody’s adventures at sea. Getting to talk to you guys—hear stories—it’s like we get to see it. You know?”
I did know, because I got to hear childhood friends talk Toys "R" Us bike rides, with pockets full of wax lips and finger puppets. Hear of the “sly Sevens” in color guard, “the 5hearts” with Doran Doran concerts and Eiffel Tower-fulfilled-dreams. I hugged Mel’s sisters and Mom, over and over again, soaking in the laugh they share with Melody. I received the gifts of instant connections and explained, “I always heard about how much Mel loved her friends and family— as Auntie Moe. It’s like I get to see it. You know?”
I shared how I met Mel on the Fascination, when she was a temporary tattoo artist. On the Conquest, I got to help train her as social host. We lived, worked, laughed and even fell in love with people together. Roommates in a shoebox on the sea, we celebrated Halloween, Christmas, New Years, surprise birthdays and became family. As we called trivia and hosted endless bingo games, we navigated real life heartbreaks. It was literally our job to help others get lost in fun, no matter what was happening in our lives. The dancing continued.
“Now you see what I’m talking about?” Yes, Cupid, I think we do. “I just let the music come from my soul, so all of my people can stay on the floor (ooh ooh). Thanks to Brandon, the Shuffle’s power overtook the room. No longer “a brand new dance” but fresh in meaning for me, I wonder about others. When has life’s heartache, alongside pure love and laughter, magnetized you to a person? And is there a time when dancing, so to speak, is the most honorable step to take? I hope you’ll be open to learning and think of our Mel.
Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)
-Take courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.
If this were a movie, it would seem “over-the-top” that we lost Melody to breast cancer and grieve her in October, the month of awareness. But, it’s real life—nothing so much as Cancer—as I’ve written in “Cheetos in White Carpet” for Kallisto Gaia Press (don’t say I didn’t warn you about the strong language *smile*). PLEASE. If you want to support Breast Cancer research via St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and read more about Mel, you can visit this page. Want to join our quest to get a ship named The Carnival Melody, click here. Want to honor her and remind loved ones to get their precious bodies checked on the regular, share these words.
UPDATE: For everyone who subscribes to Brave Tutu in the month of October, a private donor will give $1 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I’d like to think that this would be something Mel would appreciate. She definitely followed the Brave Tutu code and “took courage in delight” and found “power in small moments.”