From the top of the CCM charts to the devastation of ultimate loss, Tammy Trent has always put God first. Her music career includes three albums that have garnered two #1 songs and nine Top 10 hits. Asking the Lord to direct her next steps, she is currently speaking and singing at women's conferences including Women of Faith®.
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FaithfulReader.com Founder Carol Fitzgerald interviewed Tammy Trent, author of LEARNING TO BREATHE AGAIN. Here, Trent speaks candidly about her life after the death of her husband and her struggle to move on without the man who had been her companion and best friend since the age of 15. She also explains that, although she is often angry at the tragic turn of events in her life, she still loves and has trust in God, and believes that He is leading her with love and grace to her destiny.
FaithfulReader.com: What made you decide to write this book now?
Tammy Trent: Well, I had been approached for the second time by Debbie Wickwire of W Publishing. She had known my story and even heard me speak at a Women of Faith Conference. The first time around the timing just wasn't right --- it was too soon, nor did I really feel like I had anything to say. I still don't most days. (smile) But the second time Debbie spoke with me about writing a book I felt more ready and the timing seemed right for me to face even greater healing in my life and to talk about this journey. I knew that after two years of walking through my loss I was now ready for a new season in my life. Writing the book now was part of that new season.
FR: What was the hardest part of writing LEARNING TO BREATHE AGAIN? Was writing this book cathartic?
TT: The hardest part came for me when the first draft arrived on my door step. I grabbed a friend and asked her to read it to me. I didn't have the strength to read it on my own. Now I was seeing my story in print for this first time. As she read each chapter, we sat on the floor crying. It truly made it all so real to me at that moment. Trent was never coming back and now I was reading about it. I'm sure there was healing in that moment, too. But I certainly wasn't thinking about it. I just wanted Trent back and kept hoping to get to that chapter where we rescued him.
FR: The title says so much. How did you come up with the title? Do you find yourself still learning to breathe?
TT: The title came easily. It's all I've been doing since the moment I knew my life would never be the same again...the moment I lost Trent at the Blue Lagoon. I've been learning to breathe every single day, still. I remember crying with my Mom on the phone the morning of September 11th, 2001 telling her that I couldn't breathe. Mom would say, "Keep breathing, honey. Trent wants you to breathe!" I recorded some songs that I had written after Trent's passing and put them on a small EP Project and simply titled it "Breathing," so when asked what to title the book, "Learning to Breathe Again" seemed like it completed my heart and told a bigger story --- of hope.
FR: Have your Scripture reading habits changed since September 2001? Do you feel that you are now closer to God? Do you understand His plan for you more?
TT: Scripture immediately was a lifeline as I was holding out hope. These words and verses had surrounded my life for years, but now each one took on a new meaning as I was so desperately trying to figure out what went wrong and all the why's and where God was in all of it. I think it's changed in a way that I understand them more and have applied them more to my life then ever before, and with that you can't help but grow in the Lord as He puts your life back together again. Even though I don't care for the new plan, some days I even hate it, I do believe that I am walking in God's will for my life. I would change it in a heartbeat, but I also know I'm walking in my destiny now. I am in my future. This is and was God's plan.
FR: Was there anything that you learned from Trent that helped you get through that first terrible week in Jamaica?
TT: Honestly, I think I was too numb and shocked to think about anything at that moment.
FR: Reading the book there were moments I thought of all the times you split from Trent as you were growing up. Do you have any regrets about that time apart since you know now your time together was so finite?
TT: Sure. I think I will always feel regrets. I don't feel regrets so much from teenage spats or splits because I think those things just happen as we're trying to discover who we are as individuals and maturing, but I mostly regret hurts in our marriage. Things I did. Things I said. Things I didn't say. Things I should have done. Trent was always my example and I took that for granted. I find myself from time to time saying out loud before I go to bed, "I love you Trent and I'm sooo sorry I ever hurt you. Please forgive me, I wish you were here!"
FR: Did the fact that you had your music ministry --- and a successful career --- give you a way to help heal yourself?
TT: I knew probably my greatest healing would be to come off the platform for a year to allow the time for me to heal and for me to learn to rely on the Lord for everything. Not my music. Not my career. Not the platform. But God alone. And just simply let Him put my life back together again. I didn't know if I'd ever want to sing or write again. Honestly, I didn't want to. But slowly, after a year, I began to take the platform again and I began to sing and dance again. Yes, there has been great comfort and healing in that for me. There is joy in that for me again. It's a new ministry now, but one I think Trent would be so proud of.
FR: What would you share with a woman who has become a young widow?
TT: Keep breathing! Keep moving! One day at a time. You are not alone. Hold on. Surround yourself with people who love you and can pray for you when you cannot pray yourself. This is your journey and no one else's. There will be many voices, however; listen to the voice of God --- the first voice --- and trust Him to guide your steps. God can handle anything. He understands and hurts with you. This is nothing He did TO US! He loves us more then that. And even though nothing makes sense at times, God is still a good God, full of love and grace.
FR: In the book you talk about redesigning the closet that you shared with Trent. As you made the plan you later realized that you had not allowed space for his things. Do you think that this was something unconscious that you did to prepare yourself to move on? Do you think that often it takes a physical act like this to give someone closure on a difficult emotional issue?
TT: Yes it was an unconscious decision that I made. And I thank God that He thinks about those things when we don't. When I was done moving all of my things back into the newly designed closet in our master bedroom, I sat on the floor and cried because Trent's things were no longer there. I hadn't planned it that way, but I sat there crying and thanked God for sort of doing that for me. Had I really thought about it before, I don't know if I would have thought I was ready for such a change. But God knew just what I needed and that I needed to finally face this closet alone.
FR: When I saw you, you were still wearing your wedding ring and we talked about this. In your heart, you still are married to Trent. Do you think that you can move beyond this at some point?
TT: It's not that I feel like I'm still married to Trent, as much as it is that it sends a message that I am not available. I'm not interested. We live in such a society where if there's NO ring, that means the person is available for you to ask out. My ring is a source of protection to me. Even spiritually, because there is a lot of healing still going on in my life. I think I'll probably be healing the rest of my life from this. And even though I'm physically not married to Trent, he is still one of the biggest parts of my life. His example. His witness. His life. It is all a part of my deeper testimony now. Trent is still in this with me and I love that. So, I do believe I have moved on, I just don't want to send a mixed message that "he" can ask me out. Because I'll say NO! (laughing) So it saves time! (laughing)
FR: Have you returned to Jamaica since Trent's death? Can you see yourself doing that?
TT: No, I haven't returned and honestly haven't wanted to. Maybe someday I'll feel strong enough to stand on the edge of that water again. But I think even then I'll have a hard time breathing.
FR: What are you hearing from readers --- and your fans --- about this book?
TT: The e-mails that I read are telling me that they can't put it down. That they've read it in one setting. One fan gave my book to an unsaved friend the other day and she had a million questions about what would happen to her if she died. She gave her heart to Jesus that day. Amazing. Young girls wanting to hold out for the right guy. Marriages being restored. Cherishing the ones you love. Men wanting to be better husbands to their wives. Wives not taking for granted their husbands. Couples holding hands more and giving more cards to one another. Honestly, there have been some pretty amazing e-mails and I love knowing that Trent and I together have touched the hearts of thousands...maybe millions.
FR: What are you working on now?
TT: My yard! (laughing) Trying to keep the grass green and free of crab grass. It's been sooo hot here in Nashville so I've become the watering fool. I'm enjoying being close to home, the pool and family this summer. I'll be starting to work on a new gift book with J. Countryman Publishing that will be releasing in Spring of 2005 and hopefully start recording for a new record for release in Fall/Winter 2005.
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