I never quite understood the term “life of the party” until I met Tita Melody “Beth” Cruz in 2011.
My mom and I first encountered Tita Melody — as we fondly called her — and her brother Tito Jeff at a Zumba Dance Class in our small village mall. My mom and I were ridiculously self-conscious of dancing in the middle of a crowded mall but Tita Melody danced like no one was watching and, somehow, her energy encouraged everyone to do the same.
I remember her being so kind and welcoming — she definitely welcomed us with open arms and soon became a fixture in our lives.
For years, my mom spent three days a week with the amazing duo — Tito Jeff and Tita Melody — and the rest of their dance group. Tita Melody was literally the life of the party and I have never met anyone who entered the room with such presence. Her arrival would literally transform a room — she was like Tinkerbell, spreading fairy dust wherever she went.
Soon Tita Melody became more than just a dance buddy to my mom — she, along with Tito Jeff, became a part of my family. Mom and Tita Melody would share mini-dates right before Zumba classes and celebrate birthdays and Christmases with their own dance family.
Personally, I encountered Tita Melody during a time in my life when I was quite unsure of myself. But being enveloped in Tita Melody’s hug also meant being enveloped by her inspiring and encouraging nature. She was a bright, big ball of positive energy and it spilled onto everyone she knew. She never scrimped on uplifting words and always had something nice to say to everyone she encountered.
Tita Melody was also a wonderful mother to her three boys Omar, Rodjun,and Rayver. She was ferocious in her love for them and was always beaming with pride when she shared stories about her boys — whether in person or through her Facebook account.
Those three boys were the center of her life and it showed; she loved her boys with her entire being and was proud to call them her sons.
Her dedication to her brother, Tito Jeff, was also inspiring. She was one who gave her all to everyone she loved and she was not afraid to fight for them. She was a person who you wanted on your side because she was loyal to the very core. You knew that if Tita Melody pledged her love and friendship to you, she would be on your side forever.
She also loved to laugh — her laughter could fill up an entire room, and boy did she love taking photos. She absolutely adored taking photos with her family and friends and often forced my mom to join her in their many photos together.
Today, my mom looks back on those photos with joy, her way to remember a dear friend.
When I heard of her passing, the news hit me hard. How could someone with such life and love leave so quickly? In the years that I have known her, I have never seen Tita Melody weak or sad and so to know that she has passed on truly left a dent in my heart. She was so loving and so joyful, someone I could never forget.
My thoughts instantly went to her three sons whom she loved dearly. Her sons were so dedicated to her that my family and I have always admired just how much they have loved and adored her.
We, as her friends, have been left devasted with the news but I can only imagine what her children are going through.
I hope, as they read this, that they are reminded of how truly Tita Melody loved and appreciated them.
Omar, Rodjun and Rayver, I hope you know how much you have made your mother happy and how well you have taken care of her. My heart breaks for you and what you are going through but I whisper a prayer and encourage you in one of the saddest moments of your lives. This is what your mom has did to many — she poured her light so willingly to those who needed it.
Thank you for that light, Tita Melody. Your love for life, your laughter, your voice and your dance moves will never be forgotten. The life you have lived will continue to inspire my own and when I think of you, I will remember how important it is to dance like no one is watching and to love fully just as you have.
Until we dance again, Tita Melody. Thank you for your light.