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."