James Foley's heartbreaking last letter to his family

Every time James Foley, the American journalist kidnapped in Syria and beheaded by ISIS, wrote a letter to his family, it was confiscated by his captors. When one of his fellow hostages was about to be released, he memorized Foley's words and dictated them to his mother by phone once he was free.

'Grammy, please take your medicine,' Foley says in letter memorized by fellow hostage who was freed

James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by ISIS militants last week, wrote a heartbreaking final letter to his family that a fellow hostage dictated to Foley's family after he was freed. (Steven Senne/Associated Press)

James Foley, the American journalist kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and killed recently by ISIS militants, wrote letters to his family but they were always confiscated by his captors.

Foley, called Jim by his family, was beheaded, and the video was posted online last Tuesday.

Foley was a 40-year-old freelance journalist from New Hampshire who is being remembered as a warm, compassionate person dedicated to his job and committed to telling the stories of innocent civilians suffering in war zones. In addition to Syria, he had worked in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, where he was also kidnapped and then released after several weeks. 

Foley was held in Syria along with several other hostages. When one of them was about to be released in June, Foley asked the man to memorize the text of a letter to his family. When the hostage was freed, he phoned Foley's mother Diane and dictated it to her. His family has posted it on a website it launched after Foley's capture. Here is what it said:

Dear Family and Friends,

I remember going to the mall with dad, a very long bike ride with mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart.

I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all, especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.

Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell … we have found ways to play checkers, chess, and Risk … and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day's game or lecture.

The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension.

I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year.

I think a lot about my brothers and sister. I remember playing Werewolf in the dark with Michael and so many other adventures. I think of chasing Mattie and T around the kitchen counter. It makes me happy to think of them. If there is any money left in my bank account, I want it to go to Michael and Matthew. I am so proud of you, Michael and thankful to you for happy childhood memories and to you and Kristie for happy adult ones.

And big John, how I enjoyed visiting you and Cress in Germany. Thank you for welcoming me. I think a lot about RoRo and try to imagine what Jack is like. I hope he has RoRo's personality!

And Mark ... so proud of you, too, Bro. I think of you on the West Coast and hope you are doing some snowboarding and camping. I especially remember us going to the Comedy Club in Boston together and our big hug after. The special moments keep me hopeful.

Katie, so very proud of you. You are the strongest and best of us all!! I think of you working so hard, helping people as a nurse. I am so glad we texted just before I was captured. I pray I can come to your wedding … now I am sounding like Grammy!!

Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home. Stay strong, because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.



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