Inside 'American Sniper' Widow Taya Kyle's Heartbreak Over Leaving the Home She Shared with Husband Chris

She had to move due to legal issues but tells PEOPLE, "I feel Chris is here in the new house with us"

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Coping with the death of her husband, American Sniper hero Chris Kyle, has been hard enough, but having to move from the Texas home she shared with him was “devastating to me emotionally,” his widow, Taya Kyle, tells PEOPLE.

Even so, she says, “I feel Chris is here in the new house with us. I felt I had to move for legal reasons, but I realize the spirit of Chris is not in the home but in the hearts of those left behind.”

Chris, who was the focus of the blockbuster movie, American Sniper, based on his 2012 bestselling memoir, was shot and killed along with his friend, Chad Littlefield, at a Texas gun range on Feb. 2, 2013, by former Marine Eddie Ray Routh. On Feb. 24, Routh was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In her new memoir, American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal, Kyle, 40, writes that after Chris died in 2013, Dallas hedge fund manager J. Kyle Bass (who was an investor in Craft International LLC, a security-training company Chris had co-founded), “had told many people – and me – that he was giving me the house Chris and I had lived in, meaning he was forgiving the mortgage and renouncing any claims.”

Bass had told her to stop paying the mortgage but to keep up with the taxes – “an arrangement that was more than fair,” she writes. One of Bass’ personal partnerships owns the house.

Along the way, though, “he changed his mind,” she writes. “I have to wonder if the house became just another pawn in the battle over Craft and the rights to Chris’ name and trademark.”

But she writes, this was not “just another” pawn. “It was an especially emotional one for me. And important. It was our family home.”

Since Chris’s death, Kyle has been dealing with lawsuits over Craft International LLC, which filed for bankruptcy.

She writes that she decided that “the best way to move past the ugliness” was to give up the house.

“By terms of the settlement,” she writes, she was allowed to live in the house rent-free until October, when she could either buy it or rent it. In return, she writes that she paid $50,000 for one of the guns Chris used in Iraq, which he had originally pledged for the down payment of the house.

“All of the parties released each other from various liabilities and agreed to drop their suits, she writes. We agreed to cooperate in Craft’s bankruptcy proceedings, to the extent possible.”

Although she was sad to leave the home she and Chris shared, she says she doesn’t need it to stay close to him.

“There is a peace in my new house,” she says. “I feel Chris here. I am able to accept the new experience knowing he is still with me.”

For more on Taya Kyle and her new book, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

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