The unspeakable grief of losing a child and grandchild to family murder crashes down in every chapter of "For Laci," a book by Laci Peterson's mother scheduled to hit bookshelves Saturday.
"You wake up from most nightmares and they're over," Sharon Rocha wrote in the book's opening line. "Mine was different."
Most of the eight books published about Modesto's blockbuster double-murder case have focused on Scott Peterson, who arrived on death row in March. In contrast, Rocha's book — subtitled "A Mother's Story of Love, Loss and Justice" — provides by far the best look at the soul of the victim.
As only a mother could.
"She deserves to be remembered for her life, not her death," Rocha wrote.
Rocha, who has been taping interviews in anticipation of a book tour, wrote in an author's note that she plans to "use money from this book to start a fund for search and rescue in memory of Laci and Conner."
Though Random House's Web site shows Saturday as the release date, The Bee bought a copy Tuesday at Border's bookstore in Turlock. Eric Carlson, a manager at Border's in Modesto, said Tuesday that his store had not received permission to release it, and a Barnes & Noble employee said that store won't sell it until Saturday.
"For Laci" takes the reader through Laci Rocha's idyllic childhood, full of cheerleading, fireworks sparklers and boyfriends, to her college courtship by the handsome and charismatic Scott Peterson.
Though millions followed the Christmas Eve 2002 missingperson case of the pretty, pregnant substitute teacher and her husband's 2004 trial, Rocha tells it through the eyes of a sleepdeprived, grief-stricken mother and grandmother.
"By going through all this again (in 'For Laci,'), this time on my terms, I hoped to start the healing process and repair some of my hurt and heartbreak," Rocha wrote. "That has proved to be unrealistic. I still cry every day. My wound has remained large and fresh. I don't know if I'll ever heal."
Sprinkled among the book's 335 pages are noteworthy revelations, or reminders of little-known facts, including:
Rocha never wed Ron Grantski, who raised her daughter as his own, because their marriage plans once were interrupted by her father's death, and a second time by his father's.
In a school report saved by Rocha, a young Laci wrote that the "Psycho" character Norman Bates "can fool you by looking and acting like a normal person."
Scott Peterson left a golf-course job after being accused of stealing from the company, after meeting Laci Rocha but before their marriage.
Laci Peterson kept a pregnancy diary. Rocha referred to it several times in "For Laci," including this:
"We've decided to name him Conner Latham Peterson. I enjoy talking to him and rubbing my tummy to let him know I'm thinking about him. Pregnancy is such a wonderful experience."
Scott Peterson stunned those searching for his missing wife by announcing that he had arranged for a pet psychic to interview the couple's dog. He canceled that when Rocha blew up and said the idea was ridiculous.
Rocha was struck by a psychic's description of Scott Peterson murdering her daughter and dumping her body in San Francisco Bay — enough to drive there for an eerie "confirmation" a month before the bodies were recovered nearby. That was exactly two years before a judge affirmed his death sentence.
"It wasn't just the wind I struggled against," Rocha wrote. "The longer I was there and the more I looked, the more I knew in my soul that Laci was out there. I felt it so strongly. I stared out at that place where water and sky converged and I felt an umbilical tug between me and my daughter. She was there, I was certain."
Rocha also wrote about secret desires to bind, drug and torture her son-in-law to elicit a confession. And, she admitted to having a feeling of satisfaction when a throng gathered to heckle Peterson shortly after his arrest.
Rocha's personal revelations include two visions of her murdered daughter. In one, she describes in moving detail Laci Peterson's clothing and their heartbreaking conversation.
Rocha shares several stories of people the world over who reached out to console Laci Peterson's loved ones, including a sailor stationed in Iraq.
Another time, a woman said Laci Peterson once taught a class attended by the woman's daughter, whose name also was Laci. She gave Rocha a pencil with "Laci" printed on it that Peterson had given to the girl.
"It was moments like this that got me through the worst times," Rocha wrote. "Each time I encountered someone like that, their kind words became a tiny patch on my heart. I hoped that someday there would be enough to close the wound."
On the Net: www.lacipeterson.com lists Sharon Rocha's tentative schedule of book-tour interviews, including USA Today Jan. 5, People magazine Jan. 6, "Dateline NBC" Jan. 8, "Today" show (NBC) and "Larry King Live" (CNN) Jan. 9, and Nancy Grace (Court TV) and Greta Van Susteren (Fox) Jan. 10.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at 578-2390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.