BULLETPROOF by Laurie Morales
About The Book:
I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I come from a close- knit Jewish family in which nothing is more important than the children. After several early miscarriages, fertility treatment,
burying twin girls miscarried at six months, and cancer, my husband and I finally had two healthy boys—Alec, my bright, verbal, redhead born through surrogacy, and Asher, my blond, Buddha-baby born after a surprising, high-risk pregnancy .For a while, life was buoyant, productive and full of boy things omas the Tank Engine, shing and duck ponds, hide-and-seek through our dream house in the Arizona foothills. My husband and I were fourishing in our careers, Andre was a successful salesman, first of watches, then of real estate. I worked as a clinical director in a psychiatric emergency room, trying to keep people safe in their most perilous times It was vital, rewarding work
. But over the course of the next few years, Andre came to re- veal one dark secret after another, always followed by a desperate apology and promise to reform. Prostitutes, drinking, gambling in the form of day-trading away our savings. The only thing that seemed unequivocal was his devotion to the children Eventually I filed for divorce, the two of us preparing to share custody of the boys across a bitter divide.
Then on March 31, 2010, at 8:04 in the morning, my soon to be ex-husband shot and killed our two children: five-year-old Alec and fifteen-month-old-Asher
For nearly four years, I have been living with this… this what? is fact is tragedy, this shock, this loss, this aching is emptying out of life as I knew it. But also, this other side, this hope, making a new life built on the only thing it can be: love. This is story is mine to live. There is no way around it . It is also mine to tell
The murders and Andre’s subsequent death sentence received extensive coverage in the national and Arizona media. I turned down initial requests for interviews because I had nothing more to to offer besides the terrible facts and a shocked numbness. Stunned, dazed, I waited each day for the kids to come home, for the morning to dawn differently, with my boys playing or sleeping in the next room.
In those early days, I developed something of a plan, a humble one that was all I could manage at the time: I was going to live until the murder trial was over then I was going to disappear. Not kill myself, exactly, but drift off and join my kids. It was as far as I could see, but it would get me through
It did, some days better than others Over time, through the love of family and friends, blinding moments of revelation, and the long, hard slog of grief and healing, I feel that I have gained perspective I have begun to build a platform for living and em- braced a role helping others nd their way through grief, as a social worker specializing in counseling bereaved parents.
Now it is time to tell my story.
Bulletproof goes behind the headlines to tell the before- during-and-after story of an unthinkable family tragedy.The book begins with a marriage like many other marriages, launch-
ing with love and arcing into family. Andre held my hand and made me laugh through infertility, a traumatic miscarriage, cancer, then the miraculous births of Alec and Asher. He taught me how to put on a diaper. He lay on the living room fl oor to set up Thomas’s train tracks. He volunteered at the temple school as a “Shabbat dad ”. He took Alec shing, brought the boys to feed the ducks at the golf course pond and watch the giant fish at the Bass Pro Shop.
Bulletproof will follow the marriage as it hit rocky shoals and ran aground. Dark secrets began to emerge, Andre visited prostitutes, even brought them to our house. He drank too much (we were going through one Costco-sized Bombay Sapphire a week— about fty shots’ worth), had a DUI and his driver’s license suspended, and later, blew our savings through risky day-trading.
Bulletproof tells the story, too, of a marriage unlike most any other, ending as it does in murder and death row.There is, of course, the question of why? He did it to punish me. Because I was leaving him. Because he was afraid I was going to move away and take the children. Because, somehow, he thought it was a good idea given how his life was going. Trying to assign rational thought is something that I, the police, my family, the prosecutor, and the jury, have done countless times. But these attempts fol- low a path that never connects to the death of the boys. Rational explanation can never get anywhere near the killing, because it is the most irrational, unexplainable thing a father could ever do to his children.
Bulletproof will cover the trial, in which the Maricopa County Superior Court jury set an Arizona record for shortest deliberation in a murder trial; Eleven minutes. Guilt.y And, less than forty-eight hours later, the sentence: Death. I have always been against the death penalty, but my beliefs are forever turned inside out. On death row, alone in a cell, twenty-three hours a day and headed for execution, is someone with whom I chose to create a family. And the person who murdered my children.
Bulletproof will include stories from accident, to illness, to the myriad ways we can lose what we love most. In these sections, I will explore the in nite paths that we create to get back to ourselves and life here on earth when all we want to do is to follow our children to heaven.
The book will explore how relationship between mother and child continues after the death. I felt it first after a miscarriage at six months. Twin girls who were never born taught me about mothering. No, I never held them, cupped their downy heads, soothed their cries. Never even saw their faces. But we are forever linked in a primal bond They first made me a mother. In an essential way, they also mothered me. Their induced, explosive delivery—during which I almost bled to death—exposed a cancer that had been nascent in me, revealed it to doctors in Stage I and quite possibly saved my life.
And the boys I am still their mother, they are still my children. Perhaps, too, this one is now reversed. When I am at my lowest, when I feel like I am sleepwalking through life, it is Alec I pray to for strength and meaning. I’m not doing too well, Mumsie, I’ll say .And I’ll hear his familiar voice, this familiar phrase, “It’s okay, Mom, it’s okay ”. Over six years, I often watched my speedy adventurer and thought, “ at boy’s everywhere ”. Now he truly is. Hand-in-hand with Asher, whom he always called “my baby,” Alec surrounds me. The two of them travel the universe, reporting back to me often and always coming when called, good boys that they are.
I have imagined a home for them—the tawny Arizona hills, the bright reds and purples of my garden. In the desert, doves nesting on my back patio and, seven weeks later, baby chicks. I can see the children in anything cosmic, the dusty sweep of stars, the haloed moon, the stacked cumulonimbus clouds that herald desert rains. Home to them, this is also home to me. A world beyond this world and, at the same time, of this world. It is a borderland we both live in, I on this side, they on the other.
I have two homes: the uncontained universe where the boys are, which will always feel like home to me; and a Spanish-style stucco house in Scottsdale where I live with my husband and two stepdaughters, a koi pond out back and a Buddha garden in the side yard. Bulletproof will explore this life as a dual citizen and the challenge that lies in navigating the two worlds—as it has for the seven years and now.
About The Author:
Laurie Beth Morales has unusual insight into loss and healing as both someone who has suffered the death of her two sons and a licensed clinical social worker specializing in grief and loss, including infertility, chronic and terminal illness, palliative care and end-of- life counseling. She has a psychotherapy practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, runs the Center for Palliative Counseling, and is a provider resource for the National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children, working with grieving parents from across the country. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master of Social Work Degree from Arizona State University; has national certification in treating addictions; is a member of the Arizona Board for the Certi cation of Addiction Counselors; and has been in practice for more than twenty years. Since she has decided to tell her story publicly, she has appeared on Dr. Phil and her podcast reached #3 for mental health podcasts with Psych Sessions.
She lives in Scottsdale with her husband and two daughters