LEARNING TO BREATHE AGAIN: Choosing Life and Finding Hope After a Shattering Loss
Author Interview -- July 2004
The week of 9/11 I remember thinking that while we were in shock over the horrific events in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania, there were people who were going through their own personal tragedies that would be overshadowed by the events of this day. Someone's mom would be dying, someone would get a diagnosis that they did not want to hear or a car accident would spin someone's life in a new direction. It reminded me that C.S. Lewis had passed away the same day as JFK's assassination and his death was barely noted as a result.
Tammy Trent was one of those people. September 10th dawned wonderfully for her and her husband, Trent. They were enjoying some idyllic days on a Jamaican beach before doing a mission trip on another part of the island. Thrilled to be together --- away from cellphones, Internet access and the demands of Tammy's music career --- they were reveling in their time together and making plans. Trent was an accomplished free diver, which means that he dove without air tanks, able to hold his breath up to five minutes. The beautiful Caribbean waters beckoned him to make a dive at Blue Lagoon before he and Tammy went off for a relaxing afternoon together.
Trent pushed off and turned back to wave to Tammy one last time before he made his dive. This was a tradition of theirs. One never left; you walked away and then turned back again and again. Trent waved and dove into the blue water. Fifteen minutes went by and he still was not back. Then 30 minutes. Then 45. Tammy knew something was drastically wrong. Beckoning people to help her, a search for Trent commenced. But he was not found that day, even when divers went to 240 feet down.
She called her family back in the States to share her heartbreaking news. Her father-in-law raced from a meeting in L.A. to be with her. Everyone else vowed to be there in the morning.
The morning of 9/11 the world fell apart and Tammy found herself trapped in a nightmare in Jamaica without her family and friends surrounding her. Her father-in-law was the only family member to make the trip, as he had left California late the previous evening. He quickly took over the details of searching for Trent, whose body was found later that day. There was one gash to his head; the assumption is that he was struck by a boat or a piece of coral. No one will ever know what happened.
For the next eleven days Tammy was trapped in Jamaica, unable to return home. As her father-in-law tried to handle the paperwork, Tammy found a Bible in her hotel room and turned to Scripture for guidance to get her through this nightmare. While her friends and family could not be there to wrap their arms around her, God's word was there for her, and through her Bible reading she tried to make sense of what was going on.
The metaphor of Trent holding his breath to dive and Tammy learning to exhale to get on with her life is a beautiful one. It draws readers into the essence of their relationship. They fed their relationship with notes, cards and little traditions that bound them together. Tammy shares these intimacies and, from them, readers draw how much of her strength came from Trent --- and how she relied on him.
When she was on tour with him, she knew he was just a glance away at the soundboard. She was free to make music while he managed the details. Suddenly she was on her own. Shortly after the tragedy while she was still in Jamaica, her mom called to say, "Keep breathing, honey. Trent wants you to breathe."
Readers will feel the rawness of her hurt and will walk with her through the healing process. She and Trent clearly had a special relationship, but Tammy is not above also admitting her shortcomings along the way. She is quick to share the moments where she was more selfish and immature than Trent. She easily admits her own faults in the relationship and how she may have hurt him along the way.
Tammy Trent fans will enjoy this book, but so will readers who are looking for a story of hope. Yes, tissues are a requirement with reading this one, but I dare you not to send a card to a loved one, or make another special expression of your love once you finish reading it. The book made me stop and think about all the little things that consume us and do not allow us the time to be there for the people we love. I daresay that Tammy and Trent put more into their 18 years together than many people have in a lifetime. Take that away and figure out how you can put more into the relationships that matter to you.
--- Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald
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