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Extended Audio Sample The Letter: My Journey through Love, Loss, and Life Audiobook, by Marie Tillman Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (353 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marie Tillman Narrator: Marie Tillman Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2012 ISBN: 9781611135671
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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 open it. Then, in April 2004, Marie’s worst nightmare came true. In the days following his death, it was Pat’s letter that kept her going and, more than that, it was his words that would help her learn to navigate a world she could no longer share with her husband.

In The Letter, Marie talks about her journey to remake her life after Pat’s death. In it, she recalls meeting and falling in love with Pat when they were kids, his harrowing decision to join the army after 9/11, and the devastating day when she learned he’d been killed. She describes how she withdrew from the public spotlight to grieve, learning along the way the value of solitude, self-awareness, and integrity in the healing process. And, finally, Marie recounts her work to rebuild her life, including founding The Pat Tillman Foundation, an organization established to carry forth Pat’s legacy of leadership, and her decision to step back into the public eye in order to inspire people to live with meaning and purpose.

Filled with the lessons Marie learned and the wisdom she gained since Pat’s death, The Letter is both a heartrending love story and an inspiring tale for anyone, young or old, whose life has taken an unexpected hard turn—and who struggles to get back on the right path.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Marie Tillman’s elegantly written memoir weaves together a love story with the life affirming lesson that grief’s tributaries can flow toward healing and acceptance. This book reminds us that it’s possible to move past trauma without forgetting or letting loss define you. This is a must read for anyone who has worked to overcome life’s sorrows and embrace its triumphs with grace.” 

    Lee Woodruff, New York Times bestselling author of In An Instant

  • “Marie Tillman’s gentle memoir of love and loss is an important reminder to all that life isn’t measured by its length, but by its depth.”

    Regina Brett, New York Times bestselling author of God Never Blinks

  • The Letter is a candid, eloquent account of unthinkable loss, its incapacitating aftermath, and Marie Tillman’s long, lonely journey back to daylight…It’s a brave and wonderful book.” 

    Jon Krakauer, New York Times bestselling author of Where Men Win Glory

  • “[Marie Tillman] successfully honors her husband’s legacy while offering solace and hope for those in anguish.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An inspiring account of the author’s difficult decision to become a public advocate for military families.”  

    Kirkus Reviews 

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Betsy | 2/19/2014

    " Everyone needs to read this book. I admire Marie's courage so much. Hearing about the ocean of pain she had to swim through is so hard, but the way she managed to put the pieces back together after such a loss is really an inspiration. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cynthia | 2/9/2014

    " "everyone wanted to see the grieving widow, but I had taken pride in this most difficult time that I could maintain my composure and avoid a public show. My composure was also my one act of defiance. Everyone wanted me to break down , because they wanted the satisfaction of picking me back up. They wanted to feel useful. I wouldn't give them that satisfaction. Everything else was out of my control, but this I could control" "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lyndsey | 1/31/2014

    " This book is great if you have ever lost someone. Not only Pat's brave story but Marie's journey through grief and to live. Excellent! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janet | 1/20/2014

    " Story of the tragic loss of American Hero Pat Tillman's short life through his brides eyes. Great book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marie Shanahan | 1/18/2014

    " Loved this book- the author writes so honestly about her husband "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/17/2014

    " 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 be helpful to those who lose a spouse, or who are grieving in general. She shares her journey in the years after his death, how she evolved through the stages, and how she came to terms with his death over time. She pointed out how other books about loss really helped her as well. I wish she had included more about her present life, husband and kids in the afterward - that is the only part of the book that seemed lacking because she barely touches upon it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paula | 1/9/2014

    " I found this book really interesting mainly because I don't read a lot of books about dealing with grief without turning to spirituality. Learning more about Pat Tillman's life was interesting and learning how she coped with his last request that she "live" was really moving. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chelsea | 1/8/2014

    " I feel weird giving a rating to such a personal book. This is Marie's story of how she dealt with Pat's death, so who am I to judge her with stars. I learned a bit more about a man I appreciate and admire so I would say I really enjoyed this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elisabeth | 12/2/2013

    " Tillman's story of dealing with the loss of her husband to the war in Afghanistan was an insightful look into the grief/healing process. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cassie ♥ | 11/29/2013

    " Quick read about a woman who tragically loses her husband, Pat Tillman. I would definitely recommend this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tomissa | 10/4/2013

    " I really enjoyed Tillman's recollection of her love and loss to Pat. It was a quick read, but read like a journal from your best friend. I honestly cannot wait to see how the rest of Marie's life ends up, and it has helped me understand that everyone in life loses something or someone they love. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Laura | 8/15/2013

    " Not something I would choose to read. I read it for my book club. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Renee | 6/20/2013

    " Very touching and inspiring book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Antoinette | 5/26/2013

    " Marie is an amazing woman who I have met, and her story is so honest and brave. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kara | 4/10/2013

    " Hard to rate a book like this. I certainly don't want to downplay her suffering or any of the things she went through and I can't imagine experiencing the same, but I didn't feel moved or really connected to her story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Su Rankin | 2/12/2013

    " Read in two days. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Whitney B. | 1/29/2013

    " I respected her willingness to share her heartbreaking story. What an amazing woman. She was married to Pat Tillman, I remember hearing his story and was glad to have a better way of remembering him with her personal stories of her American hero. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa | 1/14/2013

    " A book from the heart. Glad that people can find solace and peace through writing. Helps to heal the heart. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ali | 9/7/2012

    " Very easy read. Interesting to read her side of the story and feel her journey. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenifer | 7/16/2012

    " I have been following the Tillmans since book club had me read John krakauer and then read his moms story and a great piece by his wide/widow if have any vested interest in pat Tillman must read by a young women who was asked to simply live after losing her great love! "

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About the Author
Marie Tillman is the founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation which inspires others to create positive social change through its leadership programs and scholarships for veterans, active servicemembers, their families, and college students across the country. She lives in California.