Melissa Etheridge: Tammy Will Always Be in My Life

04/23/2010 at 12:40 PM EDT

Melissa Etheridge: Tammy Will Always Be in My Life
Melissa Etheridge (left) and Tammy Lynn Michaels
Jill Johnson/JPI
Despite their recent breakup, Melissa Etheridge says she will forever maintain a connection with her former partner, Tammy.

"She'll always be in my life," Etheridge told Oprah Winfrey on a live taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show Friday.

Etheridge, 48, and the former Tammy Lynn Michaels, 35, were together for nearly nine years and exchanged vows in Malibu in September 2003. Tammy gave birth to their two children, twins Miller and Johnnie Rose, in 2006.

"We share two children," Etheridge said, and the pair are co-parenting them. "The children come first."

As for the breakup, Etheridge didn't supply any reason, but did say, "It's as mutual as those things can be."

Etheridge, who also has two children, Bailey, 13, and Beckett, 11, with former partner Julie Cypher, said her cancer diagnosis in 2004 helped her put things in perspective. Life, she said, "is about growth."

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