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The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, and Life

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  778 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
In 2003, Pat Tillman, serving in the US Army, hastily wrote a "just in case" letter to his wife, Marie. When he returned on leave before his departure to Afghanistan, he placed the letter on top of their bedroom dresser. For months it sat there, sealed and ever-present, like a black hole through which Marie knew her stable life would be pulled if she ever had reason to ope ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this short memoir after reading Jon Krakauer's book Where Men Win Glory, which is one telling of the Pat Tillman story.

The Letter was written by Pat's widow, Marie Tillman, and turned out to be a nice compliment to Krakauer's book as it explored the very sensational story from a completely different and very intimate angle.

I found this book to be both beautiful and compelling. I'm not sure what assistance Marie Tillman had with writing it, if any--the prose are simple and straight fo
Mikey B.
With all due respect for the anguish endured by Marie Tillman I decided to abandon this book with about one hundred pages left.

There are heartfelt moments when she describes how she coped when her husband died in Afghanistan – and then the gradual revelation of just how he died – by “friendly fire”.

As with most autobiographies it is inundated with mundane affairs. There was too much about her husband’s football career for example. The last one hundred, which I admittedly skimmed, were her readju
Camelia Skiba
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mary Kenyon
While the author is obviously well-educated (and well-off) this book isn't one I would recommend to those who are grieving. There seems to be little insight or answers for someone who has had a loss. While I most definitely sympathize with her tremendous loss, I found her casual affair two years after her husband's death most disturbing. I ended up flipping through the last half; there was no redeeming value to her grieving. She didn't really let the reader into her grief, except briefly, once o ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Letter- My Journey through Love, Loss & Life by Marie Tillman was her touching love story and the gift he husband Pat gave her. I was reading another book that happened to be in the bedroom where my husband was sleeping and I did not want to wake him so I grabbed this book out of my library bag of books and once I started reading I could not stop. I read the book the in one sitting. This book is one that left me feeling so many things. It is so personal and you see Marie in times of raw ...more
I have read Jon Krakauer's book on Pat Tillman and the book written by Pat's mother, but I always wondered how Marie (Pat's widow) was handling things after his death. She remained so private and shut away, but has now decided to share her story.

This is not a book about Pat Tillman. Yes, she shares some stories of him, but it's more about her and her relationship with him, both during their life together and after his death. And that's the way it should be. She is her own person and not defined
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ironically, the letter in this case was almost a footnote. It is barely mentioned, and not reprinted in full. It was the first of many incomplete tales within the story. This was really a narrative of Marie Tillman, and although she is well educated, bright, and capable, her story is just not that interesting, and she fails to tell her husband's story in a meaningful way. Although all people grieve in their own way (and that was one point which was well-made), her description of their relationsh ...more

I don't want to give this a star rating because I don't feel like it's my place to quantify someone's personal journey like this. This book left me feeling different than I thought it would. Everyone gets by the best they can with what they know. I can't imagine a trial like this. I couldn't help but hope I'd find a different source of solace if it were me. There seemed to be a theme that "you are your only source of peace". I don't believe that. It didn't resonate with me. I felt deflated and
Jun 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012, favorites
I was a Sun Devil during the same years Pat Tillman and I was moved by his choice to leave a football career behind to join the military. While I never knew him personally his death impacted me. I've since participated in 4 Pat's Runs - starting at his former high school, ASU and several in SF. It's a cause than means a lot to me.

So when I read an excerpt from this book on the Pat Tillman Facebook page I knew I had to read the whole thing. I never knew much about Pat's wife Marie other than the
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can honestly say that this is the best book I've read this year. A must read for anyone who wants a reminder that life is short and what you do with your time here is important, and a decision you must make daily. It was tear-jerking in many places, but overall a story about grief and becoming the person you are meant to be.
Ian Allan
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice companion to the Jon Krakauer book, WHERE MEN SEEK GLORY.

I appreciate the author opening up and sharing her feelings of grief, walking us through what it might be like to have a love one killed in battle.

Impressive (on the audio version) that she reads it herself. Earlier in his life, she wasn't comfortable with public speaking. Now she's turned that around enough that she did the recording of the book (which was just fine).

As far as giving it a star rating, I got it at either 3 or 4.

For me
Farzana Marie
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"I ask that you live." -Pat

"I kept that affirmation going in my mind. I was not broken." -Marie Tillman
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was good to read a true, but sad story. War is wrong .
Blake Eldridge
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is about an army wife(Marie Tillman) who loses her husband(Pat Tillman) in Afghanistan and tells her story of how she overcame that loss and explains the impact of his absence. She also explains the importance of the people who influenced her before the death of her husband and who helped her become the person she is now. Them being her husband, Pat, his brother, Kevin, and Marie's best friend, Christine. Although the death of Pat severely hurt Marie, all the characters were majorly e ...more
Feb 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marie Tillman was thrust into the spotlight when her husband, Pat was killed in Afghanistan. What made Pat's death stand out among the thousands of other soldiers killed in that war is that Pat left the NFL to join the Army and he was killed by friendly fire. In her book, Marie recalls their life together, the aftermath of his death, and how she moved on.
I confess I didn't know much about Pat Tillman until I read this book other than the headlines. Marie tells his life with loving care. She show
K2 -----
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read. You will react to depending on the expectations you bring to the book.

Marie Tillman's story is well-told and is certainly a way to gain insight into this tragic American story, of a hero, who was not only killed by 'friendly' fire but whose circumstances of death the military covered up. Reading this on the heels of seeing "The Invisible War" made me that much more upset, at how the military covers its own tracks, and betrays so many people's commitment to serving their co
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My husband had recently read a book by Jon Krakauer called "Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman." We typically don't read the same types of books, but his description of it intrigued me. It was about a former NFL player, Pat Tillman who ended up leaving the NFL to join the army to make a difference. He ended up getting killed in Afghanistan. At first it was said that he was killed in enemy combat, but it turns out the government covered it up and he was actually killed by one of his ...more
Brett Hinton
The first half of the book was very compelling for me. It discussed Marie and Pat's early life and relationship and his decision to enlist. It also centered on his death in Afghanistan and Marie's initial stages of grief and trying to cope with that grief.

The last half of the book focused on her efforts to move forward in life while keeping the memory of Pat alive. I felt like it lacked some of the depth of the first half and I found that I enjoyed it less than the first half. I suppose my react
I probably never would have read this book (likely) if not for my book club. It was a super easy, quick read and overall I enjoyed it. It was interesting having attending ASU around the same time Pat Tillman did, and I remember watching him play football, and remember when he enlisted in the military and then was subsequently killed. His wife Marie paints a pretty good picture of who Pat really was, and why he did what he did, and he seemed like a genuinely good person. I think this book could b ...more
Sandy Batesel
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off ... it's been FOREVER since I've listed my books read. Just trying to catch up my list now. We have a big upset in our family back in April when my husband had a horrible traffic accident. Just now getting back to our "regularly scheduled lives". We started a "praise page" on facebook where I update on his progress. Take a minute to have a look-see ~ Thanks.

For some reason I thought this book would be very similar to Mary Tillman's "Boots on the
Jul 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just realized I never wrote a review of this book even though I read it about a year ago. It is a very quick read. I read the book in one day because I just couldn't put it down. Marie provided a very open, almost raw, account of the days and months immediately after her husband's death. I appreciate her openness as I've heard she is a private person who prefers to stay out of the spotlight. I don't understand people who gave her negative reviews because they do not agree with the way she grieve ...more
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars A quick read which chronicles Marie Tillman's days and years after the death of her husband, Pat. I, too, read Krakauer's Where Men Win Glory and wondered what the family perspective would be. Because of the title, I'd expected "the letter" to be more of a significant player in the book; however, it ultimately becomes just the right focus. As a former Air Force officer who dealt with mortuary affairs, I saw the anguish of loved ones left behind and wondered what their lives would be li ...more
Sami Serra
I think this book was written in a style that is very easy to connect to, which I enjoyed. The author inserts actual text from letters her late husband wrote her which makes it very personal and allows us audience members to empathize with her situation. It is not only a story of tragedy and struggle, but also a story of learning to adapt and cope to life after loss. It is inspiring to hear Marie's story and how she turned the loss of her husband in war into a driving force to find herself and h ...more
Mare S
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm already familiar of the Pat Tillman story from reading Jon Krakauer's Where Men Win Glory, but this is a very different take on things. This book is much more about the process of mourning and grieving for someone close to you. It's about learning to redefine who you are in the absence of this person in your life and the steps forward/backward that spring up at random times.

There were many times, I could relate to what Marie was writing and feeling...but mostly, I loved her line about how e
Candi Berry
Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew about Pat Tillman from reading Jon Krakauer's book and was interested in reading more about Pat from Marie's perspective. Her book is very inspiring, her personal growth through grief is a reminder that we're all on this human journey together.

Favorite passages:
"Grief is messy; grief is complicated; grief is in many ways unending."

" quickly life could bring you to your knees or make you soar, the challenges, the delight, the wonder of it all. Life would always be dynamic, unpredict
After reading Jon Kraukauer's Where Men Win Glory, I was interested to learn of a book by Marie Tillman in which she chronicled dealing with her husband Pat Tillman's death by friendly fire in Afghanistan. I was pleased to read that she didn't tackle the military reports, investigations, or really any part of that side, as Krakauer covered it all very well. Instead, Marie tells her feelings on being a military wife who lost her high school sweetheart, and the years of how she handled her grief, ...more
Judy Stasiak
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the things that I liked most about this book, was when she shared that she just wanted to deal with her grief in her way. when we see the loved ones of our friends pass, we all want to help. Sometimes we don't know how to act or what to say. An important thing to remember is that everyone deals with pain differently--some want to talk about it all the time, relive the past, share every feeling and frustration. Others keep it all bottled up and may perhaps let it eat at them every day for ...more
Jul 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was good. Was it great? No. But anyone's personal story is interesting to me, and so I read it through. Otherwise I'm not sure I would have wanted to finish it. I found it kind of boring at times, and even though she was describing what was her own personal struggle, I found it to be more about things I wasn't expecting. I felt like the majority of the book was not about how she actually felt with the loss, but about life before the loss, and life years after. There was little (or at least it ...more
Good book about her loss of Pat Tillman. She didn't go into a lot of detail about the fratricide. She mostly focused on her love of Pat, their long time together, her mourning, and their friend Kevin's mourning. It was interesting to see her get back into life, and her took her several years to get there. And also how she moved around quite a bit to find a place to live and to get away from the familiar scenes of where her and Pat would have been previously. She didn't get into her new marriage ...more
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My last audiobook of the summer. I've never experienced the kind of loss Marie Tillman faced,and to do so in such a public way made it worse. Her husband was the Arizona Cardinal football player that left football to serve in the war. He was killed in combat by friendly fire. (then his family had to face years of a cover up)Her story goes back to when they were in high school and goes through years later. At times it was very difficult to listen to,but the end result making him a real man instea ...more
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“Our lives should have depth, which means pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones and not taking the easy way out all the time.” 3 likes
“When Pat asked me the life, he didn't mean just that I should travel and have fun, although that was certainly part of it. He also meant that there's a weight to all of our lives, and he didn't want me to be frivolous with mine. If was a tragedy that Pat's life - while fully lived - was cut short. But it's also a tragedy to live a long life that isn't meaningful.” 1 likes
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