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The silence was defeaning. “Are you still there?” I asked, thinking we got disconnected. Then I heard tears.

“Tara, I had no clue you went through all of this. You have got to share your story,” my cousin April said. I had just finished sharing the details of my bout with cancer, the deceased child I delivered at 22, and the passing of the only father I ever knew.

I’m not sure how the conversation got around to that, but without noticing I had spent the last hour on the phone fighting back tears while I shared my life story. I don’t know why I hadn’t bothered to share the most tumultuous decade of my life with others prior to this conversation, maybe I decided to suppress it so I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

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As I hung up the phone that night her words rung in my head. Anyone who knows me knows I’m the shy type, and I’m proud of it. Sharing…rather revealing…my story to others brought feelings of fear and inadequacy.

“What if no one cares?” I thought. After mulling over it for days I mentioned it to my husband. He suggested I go for it; in his typical over-the-top fashion, he suggested I setup a website, write a book, and call Oprah to produce the movie. “Hold your horses,” I laughingly replied…let’s just see if I can write it out first.

The next morning I crawled out of bed early, settled in at the kitchen table with my favorite pen, and began writing…

The Beginning

I grew up in a small country town nestled in the mountains of NC. My life was like most North Carolina girls’: cherished by my family, spoiled by my grandfather, and obsessed with basketball. My granddad, Pops, was the neighborhood coach so it only made sense to follow in his footsteps.

This turned out to be a smart decision; after setting several records at the local high school I signed scholarship papers to play for Wake Forest University, one hour down the road.

Many athletes choose to attend the school with the best perks, the best chances of making it pro, or the hottest guys (true story); but my choice was simple, Wake was the closet school to home. I’ve always been extremely close to my family, and the thought of moving away from the only world I had ever known was not a pleasant one.

The Guy

I arrived on campus with no intention of dating. While passing the football practice field my mom sternly told me: “Tara, you stay away from that area”. My high school relationship had ended, and I assured her I was done with guys for a while. “Basketball, basketball, basketball” I said. That was before I met Jason.

Jason was a senior linebacker on the football team. Initially, he was just another cute guy, but I began to hear stories from my teammates about how he was different. “Different?” I would question aloud.  Jason was known for his strong Christian values, I saw it for myself when I met him for the first time and saw a case of bible scriptures on his TV.

It didn’t happen overnight but, by the end of the summer school session we had exchanged numbers. This would turn out to be the beginning of something magical.

Wedding Day

At the snap of a finger I found myself graduating from college. My, how the time had flown. Basketball was enjoyable but was quite different from my high school experience. The Jason guy I met the summer of my freshman year was now my fiancé. We set our wedding date for Valentines day – either really romantic or really smart on his end (kill two birds with one stone)

I was nervous, excited, and scared all the morning of my wedding day. I assured myself that this is what was supposed to happen: attend college, meet the guy, marry the guy, and pop the kids. Wait, that last part didn’t quite sound right. Did I gain weight or did my dress shrink? My feet already hurt. Ok I admit, I was a nervous wreck while preparing to walk the aisle.

The day turned out to be magical. We got married on the beach in fairy tell fashion, then spent the rest of the week enjoying the most beautiful island I had ever seen. We returned home to celebrate with family and friends, before moving our stuff into a condo on the other side of town. After weeks of unpacking, painting, and adjusting we finally began to settle into a routine.

I had a fairy tale life, how could it get any better…

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