I’ve been thinking and praying about whether to share the below letter I wrote for most of this week. Though it was written with utmost respect and heartfelt sincerity, I wondered how could I possibly do it justice? But then I read a quote from Glennon Melton of Momastery that eased my mind. It was just what I needed to be reminded of about why I wanted to write it in the first place — to encourage the widow of Chris Kyle and let her know that she is seen, heard, and remembered. Though I can never truly know the magnitude of her pain, I identify and relate in many ways with what I do know of her story. Glennon said, “You know, what strikes me is how desperately we all need to know that we are seen and heard. We don’t need our lives to be different, or easier, we just need someone to see the pain. To know what we’ve faced and overcome. To say: Yes. I see this. This is real. We don’t need a magician to take it all away – we just need a witness.”
She nailed it. Though I don’t know that she’ll ever read it, I want this letter to be a witness for Taya Kyle just the same.
As the child of two veterans and the wife of a veteran, I’ve always found myself drawn to stories like yours – true stories of pain bound tightly with purpose. Stories of struggle and heartache that help us all to understand our shared humanity more clearly. In our years together as a couple, my husband and I have spent more time apart than together, so I understand the unique sacrifices that both you and your husband made for the good of our country.
I was captivated when I read your story in People magazine last week, and that’s when I knew for sure I had to see the movie American Sniper, which honors your husband’s life.
I thought about all the times I’d heard my mom or anyone else say they didn’t want to see a movie because it’d be “too sad.” I thought about the countless people who may feel similarly, even over a true story of epic importance to American history. We all carry our own baggage throughout life, and sometimes even stumble or trip over it. There are those who are vulnerable and easily triggered into remembering their own losses. So though we would never begrudge those who don’t see American Sniper, oh how I hope most do.
Your husband dedicated his life to serving his country, and now it is time for us to show up and pay our respects. You and your children sacrificed so your husband could pledge his life for ours and we want to show up for you.
My husband and I had this privilege last weekend. As the movie came to a close, the sorrow over your husband’s death was almost palpable. In contrast to mainstream movies that end with music and a happy shuffle of activity reverberating through the room, the retelling of your husband’s life was punctuated only by the deafening roar of quiet, that moved me to tears over the collective mourning the loss of a hero. Not a word was spoken as a packed house slowly filed out with the utmost respect hanging heavy in the air.
I felt shaken, and couldn’t stop thinking about you and the profound sacrifices you and your husband have made and continue to make on our behalf. Although the movie is deeply moving — and yes, sad — it contains a powerful message that continues to resonate with me. So would I have had it any other way? Not a chance.
The sacrifices you and your husband made have not been in vain. You made it possible for him to preserve and protect our freedom, and that freedom is not worth fighting for unless we understand that which has made it possible. We cannot fully appreciate the blanket of freedom we sleep under each night unless we know who provides it in the first place and why they work tirelessly to defend it. As Winston Churchill once said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many, to so few.”
We owe you and your family a debt of gratitude we can never repay. But we can show up to honor your husband and see a truly outstanding movie. Thank you for allowing your story to be told. Your unwavering dedication to your husband and your country will not be forgotten. On the contrary, the selfless example modeled by you and your family will be what countless Americans teach their children and grandchildren about for generations to come.
A grateful American
Find this letter syndicated on The Huffington Post here