CHICAGO -- Tucked into the sixth-floor corner of a nondescript downtown office building, Marie Tillman is getting it done. She's grinding, tying bows on two of the year's biggest tasks for a foundation that has grown to impressive heights in 10 years.
All the while, Tillman has a quiet energy about her, blending a peaceful calm with a professional demeanor -- a characterization that is still surely far too simple to define a woman who has both endured great pain and shaped a changed life over the past decade.
Then again, how do you easily define any of this? How do you explain a time of year, one marked by a twisted combination of heartache and productivity, without failing to encapsulate just how complicated all of it must be?
Tuesday marks the 10-year anniversary of Pat Tillman's death. It marks a decade since Tillman, the man who famously gave up a budding career as a safety for the Arizona Cardinals to instead protect the safety of a nation, lost his life while serving as a soldier in Afghanistan.
It also marks a week when Tillman's widow, who met her late husband in high school, will help orchestrate a charitable race in Arizona, called Pat's Run, that has grown to include 30,000 participants. It marks a time of year when she will continue filing through nearly 2,600 applications sent by those hoping to be one of the 50 to 60 military veterans awarded with a scholarship to continue their education.
"I mean, I think that there's a lot going on, which is great," Marie says. "I love to be busy and sort of focused on the tasks that we're focused on. But I'm also trying to take a step back and be a little bit more thoughtful and reflective on the time of year."
"I'm trying to think a little bit more about Pat's life and this legacy that's come from it."
Ten years since she lost her husband, Marie Tillman helps to personify what this unfortunate anniversary has become for those who knew Pat best. It is a time to remember and reflect -- and a time to push forward and produce.
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