They say behind each successful man, there’s a smart woman. I say behind each hero there’s a Marie.
The Letter by Marie Tillman is a heartfelt insight into her life after her husband’s death as well as a journey through all stages of grief she’s experienced since then. Pat Tillman’s life had been in the spotlight very little before he died as both he and Marie have shied away from the public eye, preferring the coziness of their home, the serenity of their relationship, the comfort of their love. The NFL player who gave up a successful career as a football player to enlist in the army became an icon after his death in April 2004. The circumstances surrounding his death still create a lot of controversy, including two congressional hearings and multiple investigations. Somehow Marie had to learn how to cope with the media infatuation with her husband as well as with all the attention she unwillingly received.
I applaud Marie for her ability to capture real feelings, real emotions making the book that much more intense, allowing readers a close look into a grieving heart. The book contains very little dialogue, but it’s easy to follow and finish in one sitting. Its simplicity, its reflection on life’s fragility and what matters most as well as how Marie chose to navigate through the murky waters of healing is done gracefully. From a shy lotus lily living in Pat’s shadow, Marie grew into a confident woman, working constantly to keep Pat’s legacy alive. She went through the stages of grief in her own way, at her own pace, and came out not completely healed but stronger.
The Letter is a compelling, poignant memoir, a true story of heroism and altruism behind the deadly lines of war.