Love letters were not only for our favorite couple, Noah and Allie, in The Notebook. Marie Tillman shares her love letter from former NFL player, U.S. Army Ranger and late husband, Pat Tillman. In 2004, Marie Tillman was informed of her husband’s death and discovered a “just in case” love letter that he had left for her before his deployment to Afghanistan.
Marie Tillman has not spent a day of her life since the devastating day of her husband’s death without thinking about Pat Tillman’s love letter and how the contents of the letter have helped her go on with her life. In The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss & Life, Marie Tillman discusses her story of love and grief in the death of her husband. In her new memoir, Marie Tillman reveals the Pat Tillman that is behind the tough guy exterior the country knew. The widow read from Pat Tillman’s love letter during an interview with NBC’s Jenna Bush Hager on TODAY Monday.
“Through the years, I’ve asked a great deal of you,” the letter reads. “Therefore it should surprise you a little that I have another favor to ask. I ask that you live.”
Shortly after Maria and Pat Tillman were married, he and his brother Kevin Tillman enlisted together in May of 2002 after being greatly moved by the devastating events of 9/11.
“It’s funny because that sort of simple request I feel like has taken on such different meaning over the course of years,” Marie Tillman said.
The strength Pat Tillman’s love letter gave Marie has resulted in her running the Pat Tillman Foundation. This foundation provides educational scholarship for veterans and their spouses. In 2011, Marie married Joe Shendon, and they live in Chicago with their first born, Mac Patrick, and Shendon’s three other boys from a previous marriage.
“I don't know if he knew what he was doing when he left that letter,’’ Tillman said about Pat. “But it was really a gift for me to know that it was okay. It was okay for me to move forward and to live my life.’’