To the growing list of family and friends I have lost to cancer in the past year I must sadly add the lady who taught me how to dance. Carmel Mortenson loved her job and her students—most days.
She wasn’t too happy with me when I couldn’t quite get the move where I spun her to the floor and slid her forward. She got a few bruises but we pulled it off for the showcase. I wrote about that experience in a post called Dancing with the Scars:
This Valentine’s weekend (2014) I was in a ballroom dancing showcase doing an East Coast Swing. It was my version of Dancing with the Scars. Making me look good was my partner, teacher and friend, Carmel Mortenson. She put her professional reputation on the line by dancing with me in public, for which I’m beyond grateful. …
For me, dancing is therapeutic and life-affirming. It is physically and mentally challenging. It requires discipline and rewards commitment. Best of all, it connects you to some wonderful people.
Carmel was one of those “wonderful people.” We not only danced together but later learned we had cancer in common. She read my book Stumbling Toward Heaven with great interest. We talked about chemo and radiation, side effects and surgeries, doctors and insurance. We also discussed what might happen if we lost the battle.
I believe such candor helps, but it doesn’t quite prepare you for death. Carmel has taken her final bow and left the floor. We are the ones who have to cope with the gaping holes where family members and good friends like her used to be.
I can’t think of a higher tribute than to say, you will be missed, Carmel.