By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
Two years ago, the unthinkable happened to Tamara Marie Simms. Driving home from a family outing, her husband Kendrick was killed as he shielded her from bullets aimed at their car by an unknown gunman. Afterwards, as she cradled the lifeless body of her husband, she prayed to God – and God answered. From that moment on, her life was changed forever. But in instead of losing hope, she found a new purpose. And today, Tamara is sharing her experiences in a new book called “Decisions”.
Tamara and Kendrick were heading home, driving along Bethel Avenue, after a family outing to the carnival on December 27, 2016 when a car hit them from behind, causing the couple’s vehicle to swerve off the road.
“(Kendrick) regained control of the car, we came back on the street and continued driving. We figured someone must have fell asleep at the wheel and hit us,” Tamara told Tribune Woman.
However, the same car that had hit them suddenly pulled in front of the couple, forcing them to stop for a second time. A man armed with a handgun emerged from the car and pointed it in their direction.
“Kendrick said, ‘Babe duck, he have gun’. At this point (Kendrick) was trying to get around the vehicle, which he did. The man was shooting at the car as we were driving away.”
In the passenger seat, Tamara kept her head down as her husband tried to get them to safety.
“Something on the inside me just told me to lift (my head) up. And when I did my husband had this look on his face and I knew something was wrong. I grabbed the wheel, because at this point his foot was on the accelerator and our car was going at a fast pace. We were about to crash into the island in the middle of the street that separated two lanes,” she recalled.
“When I took the wheel I was ready for whatever happened. I was prepared to die in that moment. Our car hit a fence in someone’s yard and ran into their wash room.”
Once the car had come to a stop, Tamara realised she was unharmed, but as she turned to look at Kendrick she saw a sight she would never forget: her husband’s lifeless body slumped in the driver’s seat.
“He was hit in his back trying to shield me. I breathed in his mouth for a bit, but I got nothing. Then I put his head on my chest and prayed as people made their way to the scene,” she said.
Kendrick was 30 years old and had been married to Tamara for four years at the time of his death. The couple did not have any children of their own together, but Tamara said Kendrick treated her 17-year-old son Jamal Johnson like his own.
Kendrick’s untimely death was a defining moment for Tamara, who said her trust in God has grown by leaps and bounds since that tragic day. Last month, on the second anniversary of Kendrick’s death, she released a her book “Decisions”.
She said she was inspired by God to give an account of what happened, how she was able to maintain a sound mind, and how she learned to be hopeful for the future again.
“In this book I shed light on how important it is to trust God, love, forgive and live the abundant life that God promised after experiencing tragedy. I believe that my experiences will encourage persons to trust God with every fibre of their being, forgive even when they’ve been hurt, and love without limits,” she said.
Tamara admitted that she was in awe of her own strength and resilience, which she knows came from God.
“That night I didn’t holler, scream or carry on. I told the people who were on the scene to call the ambulance,” she said.
A relative of theirs who lived only two houses down from the crash site was also contacted.
“When she came and saw what happened she immediately started screaming and crying. But all I could do was pray. I paced the street and prayed. There was even a point in time when I said out aloud in the street, ‘Lord I forgive them for what they did’. I know the people were wondering what I was doing and how I could say what I said at a time like this, but I did not care,” she said.
Tamara recalled having a vision shortly after the ordeal. In this vision from God, she said, she was told to make a choice.
“The Lord said to me that I could choose to allow this situation to set me crazy or to trust Him throughout the entire thing, and I chose to trust Him,” she said.
While Tamara said she will forever hold Kendrick in her heart, writing the book has given her a sense of closure.
“The overall message of the book is to help others know that there is another way besides the ‘norm’. When tragedy happens, the human reaction is to normally go into a frenzy or go into panic mode, but instead we are admonished to trust God. When you make the decision to trust God with everything, He has a way of not just guiding you through difficult times, but bringing you out whole. You will be gifted with a sound mind and truly experience the peace that surpasses all understanding,” she said.
To this day, no one has been arrested or charged in connection with Kendrick’s killing.
“Three months after I made a call to the police but they didn’t have any leads,” said Tamara. “A police officer actually said to me that there had been several other people who had gotten murdered since my husband. I never called back since to find out any information about it because I just did not want to go through that.”
Tamara is an ordained minister at Living Waters Kingdom Ministries and also the assistant director of its fine arts ministry. She also counsels people who are going through trying times.
She said she is looking forward to what God has in store for her and her son, who should have been in the car that night, but rode with his grandmother from the carnival instead.
“I pray the main takeaway from the book is that every decision you make in this life will affect the decisions that will come after. No matter what the circumstances are in your life, don’t be afraid to go against the natural to experience the supernatural. Always choose life, so that you and those who are connected to you can live,” she said.
Tamara’s book is available on Amazon or can be purchased directly from her by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To keep up with her work, follow Tamara Marie Speaks on Instagram and Facebook.