Pat Tillman’s Final Love Letter
Pat Tillman had a career with the NFL but left it and instead chose to serve in the military.
Tillman enlisted in the army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred. He was killed in 2004 during a deployment to Afghanistan by friendly fire.
The football player and soldier had left a “what if” letter to his wife to read in the event of his death.
When she received the news of her 27-year-old husband’s death, she went looking for the letter that she had hoped never to open.
Tillman has now written a book about their 11 year relationship from high school until his death.
In the book, The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, and Life, which is available in stores on Tuesday, the contents of the letter are highlighted.
As Tillman tells it, her husband’s letter began:
“It’s difficult to summarize 10 years together, my love for you, my hopes for your future, and pretend to be dead all at the same time…I simply cannot put all this into words. I’m not ready, willing or able.”
Then came the words that crushed Tillman when she first read them but which continue to guide her today:
“Through the years I have asked a great deal of you, therefore it should surprise you little that I have another favor to ask. I ask that you live.”
In an interview with Parade Magazine, Marie said she started writing without the intention of turning it into a book, but more as a means of therapy.
“Once I could put some time and distance between me and what happened, though, I was able to get out there and talk to people,” she said.
“And the more I did, the more I heard stories of loss. When I was going through really difficult times, those were the people I connected with. At some point, I realized that in the same way other people’s stories helped me heal, maybe mine would be helpful for someone else.”
Tillman, who gave birth to son Mac Patrick in January, lives in Chicago and continues to work for veterans through the Pat Tillman Foundation.