A Light in the Darkness for Tammo


May 18, 2012 by Jay Helms

I just finished a delicious breakfast wrap and a Lemon-White Chocolate cookie at Peppers Market and Sandwich Shop.
3,859 miles away in Woking in Surrey, outside of London, My brother in law Tam Smith, my sister Nancy and their children Bailey and Brody are sitting for a funeral at the Woking Crematorium.


Just 10 days ago, Tam’s older brother and hero, Jake Smith, unexpectedly died in an instant, sitting in his car in the parking lot of a local grocery store in Surrey. Apparently a long-dormant virus attacked his heart somehow. It happened so fast Jake likely never knew what was happening. Needless to say, Tam was utterly devastated and heartbroken. Who wouldn’t be?

So here I sit, fully satisfied with terrific food, in a peaceful environment…and there they are in the midst of pain I really can’t say I understand. To the average eye that would appear callous, immature, or nihilistic.

There are two reasons this contrast of present experiences is not disturbing to me. The first reason is, I will not be eating lunch today. I made a decision last week to fast from lunch for 7 days to journey with Tam in prayer and solidarity. It’s one way I can love someone whole-heatedly though it be at a distance. I know I will not be eating lunch today and I know I will be praying and loving Tam and his whole family in doing so.

The second reason this is not disturbing to me is Death has no hold on Tam and it has no hold on me. It has no hold on Nancy, either. We have that incredible gift in common. It is a special, unbreakable bond we share.

Our lives together are utterly, completely, thoroughly, and in ways far beyond the reach of human minds defined by Grace…that is to say, the ineffable power and love of The One who walked this earth with us on His mind…The Only One who has never, for a second, abandoned us to the darkness…The Only One who did the unthinkable, putting death itself to death.

Amazingly and inexplicably, He knows us and thinks of us and gives both His power and His love in overflowing measure to Tam and to Nancy as they sit in England and to me as I sit in a sandwich shop in Morrisville today. Unbelievable.

So let it be known that Nietzsche is Dead, and Jesus Lives. The good news is that Jesus is big enough to love both Nietzche and you & me. And that’s why I can eat with a light heart while suffering remains for a season.

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)


4 thoughts on “A Light in the Darkness for Tammo

  1. annewoodman says:

    Jay, I’m sorry to hear this.

    I think the reason death is difficult for humans is not for ourselves… if we have faith, we believe in life after death. But it is difficult for the people left behind. We wish we could gather everyone we’ve ever loved around us and spend time with them not only after death, but for our entire lives here on earth. It’s selfish, but absolutely real. I hope your sister continues to find peace.

    • Jay Helms says:

      Hey Anne, check out this article when you get a minute: ow.ly/b3zsB
      It is written by an orthopedic spinal surgeon who drowned while kayaking in Chile…?!
      I think you are right on, with your insights and comments about our experiences of having to let go when people die. And cute phrases absolutely do not help. That’s why in certain situations with close friends, I have taken to fasting from lunch for a brief period of time to somehow love them and pray for them in the midst of their deep heartbreak.
      In Bear Grylls’ autobiography there is a lovely (& brief) chapter about his experience with God comforting him directly, when someone close to him died where was about 15. I read it to our kids.

  2. annewoodman says:

    Wow. I have read many similar accounts… in fact, it’s not even surprising anymore how similar they all are. It’s incredibly comforting.

    Very coincidental, too, that I was just sitting here typing up a news story about two kayakers who had been rescued and the firefighters who saved them. No near-death experiences, but the “coincidence” was kind of cool when I read your comment. ; )

    Best to your family as you all traverse this difficult time.

  3. mom says:

    Dear Jay,
    Another insightful writing. You pinpointed the contrast between believer’s view of death versus non-believer’s. I love reading your blogs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Jay Helms


Enter your email address to follow Echo and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 27 other followers

%d bloggers like this: