Marie wears many hats — president and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation, author, freelance writer, traveler and new mother. She took time out of a very busy schedule to relax and have a chat with SheKnows about her new memoir, The Letter, out now.
Marie Tillman: Well, the letter was always comforting, it really was. It was something that I was grateful to have.
Marie Tillman: It was difficult to write, but I went into it thinking that I was going to be very honest with what I was writing, and in the end I would censor things if it seemed too revealing. But I knew that in order to really tell my story and have it be one that people would be able to connect with, I'd have to be honest. I think you can feel sometimes when somebody is holding back or guarded. The reason I wrote the book was so that other people going through something difficult could read it and connect to it and hopefully find some sort of comfort. I had waited so long to tell my story, and I'm in such a different place than I was when it all happened, and that made it a little easier.
Marie Tillman: I think the hardest thing is that there really isn’t a right answer of how to deal with things. What I found is that it's a process that you have to move through. You can't go around it, you can't go over it, you have to put one foot in front of the other and make your way through it. Eventually, in time things get easier — which is so cliche and I hated hearing it right after Pat died. Time helps, it really does. I think that you just have to try every day to sort of do the best that you can. Eventually you don't have to try as much as you did the day before, and it does get better.
Marie Tillman: It wasn't necessarily advice but one of the hardest things for me, because I was young, was that a lot of people would say, “Oh, you're young — you’ll find someone else and you'll be fine,” which just was so not what I was feeling at that point in time. And I get it — to a certain extent — but it still felt a little bit insensitive, you know?
Marie Tillman: I do, definitely. I think that the experience that service members go through and military families go through is very different than a lot of the experiences of the majority of the population. It was something that I can look back to now and appreciate. It was a good time in our lives, obviously up until the point when Pat was killed. Being part of the military community was really a positive thing. So many service members are removed from their own family and friends, and there's a great support network there, and a real sense of community that I think you don't get everywhere.
Marie Tillman: Having a child now, I feel like all moms feel — like you can't imagine that this person would not be in your life. You have this baby, and it's like an extension of you. I think that in some ways it's symbolic of how far I've come. I think with kids in general you kind of want to slow things down and appreciate all the tiny little things that happen in a day. Every first thing they do is the most amazing thing ever.
Marie Tillman: Oh, I have so many! But my next big trip, which I hope is soon — but with all the kids and the little one, it's a little trickier — I'd like to do Machu Picchu. That's the one that's been on my list for a while. It takes some training, because we want to do the full hike and we need to have the time to prepare and go.
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