NATIVITY and TRAGEDY
SOMEWHERE IN CLEVELAND, there is a child being born at this very moment. Somewhere, pure spirit is being inspired into form.
For Chase Alan Carter that moment arrived five years ago on December 22nd at about 2:35 a.m. at Fairview General Hospital — a stone’s throw away from the city limits. His father, Nick Carter is a 16-year old high school student — a good kid who became a young man that morning, and will forever be charged with the awesome responsibility of fatherhood.
But this is a Christmas tale of two teenaged Nick’s — and a few hours earlier, with the Christmas break finally upon him, 15 year old Nicolas Rauser was anxious to hang out with his friends, so he jumped into the back seat of the 2001 Hyundai and sped off towards the Great Northern Mall. “Free,” he must have thought while cradling himself into the back of the car. “No school for two weeks.”
Ten miles away, Nick Carter’s girlfriend was about halfway home — at 5 centimeters. She was being brave, but she was exhausted. The two had checked into the hospital some 15 hours prior, not knowing, of course, what to expect. My 16-year old son Gabe was by his side; excited for his young friends and determined to be with Nick until the baby was born. They yammered on and on about this profound experience and Nick imagined aloud about how different his life would be from this day forward. He seemed simultaneously calm and hyper — and the two friends were embarking on their vacation together in a new and very unusual way.
NICK RAUSER came from a ‘mixed family,’ and his Dad married the mother of Alicia, a dear friend of my eldest son Jacob. As with so many families brought together through divorce, Alicia and Nick had their awkward moments, but eventually they grew quite close. Nick teased his stepsister often, as teenagers are wont to do, but Alicia would usually giggle or feign anger — and the teasing would subside. Late on December 21st, while Nick and his friends were enjoying their first few hours of freedom from school, they didn’t know they were heading right into the teeth of a classic Lake Erie snowstorm.
AT ABOUT 10:15 p.m., a worried Gabe called home. “Dad, they’re saying that the baby is upside down,” he said with obvious concern. “Nick is kind of worried and the doctors are too.” I did my best to talk Gabe down from his anxiety. “This happens a lot more than you think, Gabe,” I told him. “Be strong for Nick — he needs to know that everything is going to be all right.”
A few minutes later, Jacob called from across town to tell me that the storm was getting bad in North Olmsted, but that he was okay. “I’ve already seen two accidents, Dad. The police blocked off a road near the Mall. I’m coming home.” Unbeknownst to Jacob, he had just witnessed the evolution of a tragedy. Within a few hours he was to receive a text from Alicia, and it was then that he discovered that her stepbrother was in an accident — the very one he saw outside the Great Northern Mall. The crash took place at 10:25 p.m. and Nick Rauser was rushed to St. John’s Hospital in nearby Westlake.
He was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m.
AT 2:56 a.m., THE PHONE RANG AGAIN, this time from Gabe at Fairview Hospital. Chase Alan Carter was born — as the family of Nick Rauser grieved.
On Christmas Eve, 15 year old Nicolas Rauser was buried. . .it was a beautiful remembrance of a life cut far too short. Across the border of North Olmsted, the baby boy of 16-year old Nick Carter was enjoying his second day of life. He is indeed a Christmas child — held in the loving embrace of two teenaged parents.
During this Holiday, in the wake of this nativity and tragedy, we should think to embrace our children more — no matter what age they are. As they open their presents, as they bicker over the Playstation or the new computer and cause parents anguish, we should commemorate the love we had for them as infants.
They may not live the life of Jesus or work miracles, but as this Christmas tale of two Nick’s shows — we should cherish each moment — and take nothing for granted. The Rausers did just that — and the Carters are now following their path.
Today of all days, love your children.