DALLAS (AP) — Former first lady Laura Bush says in her new book that she lost her faith for many years after her pleas to God to spare the life of a high school classmate whose car she hit were not answered.
Bush talks in detail for the first time publicly of the accident she was involved in as a 17-year-old in Midland, Texas, that killed her friend Mike Douglas. She says that she and a girlfriend were on their way to a drive-in theater on Nov. 6, 1963, when she ran a stop sign and hit Douglas’ car.
The memoir, “Spoken from the Heart,” is set for release next week. A copy of the 456-page book was obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Bush says that in the emergency room after the accident, she could hear Douglas’ mother sobbing on the other side of a curtain. Guilt over the accident consumed her for years and she regretted not visiting Douglas’ parents following the accident.
Bush says in the book that when she became a mother, she began to fully understand what his parents had gone through. She says that after a high school classmate of her twin daughters’ committed suicide, she insisted that they visit the friend’s parents.
In her book, the former first lady also talks about everything from her childhood to meeting George W. Bush — the man she fell in love with for his humor and steadfastness — to her time as first lady.
She also dispels rumors that she ever considered leaving her husband over his drinking, saying she never told him it was “Jim Beam or me.” She says that while his drinking was indeed a problem at one point, they loved each other and never considered divorce.
But she says he was “a bore” when he drank too much and she felt he could be a “better man.”
She says her husband would drink bourbon before dinner, beer during and B&B after, a combination she called “lethal” but “completely accepted” by their social circle.
The man who went on to serve two terms as president quit drinking in 1986 at the age of 40. She says his decision came as a result of a growing religious faith, being a husband and a father and recognizing that “failures are best met head-on, clear-eyed.”
The former first lady also talks about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, saying she was shocked that the communications system had made it difficult for her to speak to her husband. He tried to call from Air Force One and couldn’t get through. She had to call him, and only succeeded on the second try. Watching the news on TV, she felt a “mourning like I had never known.”
Bush defends her husband’s decision to invade Iraq and was surprised when intelligence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction proved to be wrong. She says that in hopes of resolving the crisis, her husband had contacted Saddam through France and Russia and was hoping for a “last-minute breakthrough.”
She also says that while she always cared about her appearance, she wasn’t one to follow the trends, explaining “I have been wearing the same suits, sweaters, and slacks for years.” ”East Coast elegance,” she says, was impossible for “sweater-set girls in Midland.”