Every once in a while, something happens that defies all understanding. Such was the phone call that Bella received one night from a frantic Christopher.
“Mama!” His voice was tormented. “Nick… he isn’t breathing!” Sobs choked his words. The song of sirens sang in the background.
“I’m on my way.” Bella felt sick. “Rog, if I ever needed you, it’s now.” She tried to stay calm as she put her shoes on.
“What’s wrong?” Her face was sheet white. “Darling, what’s wrong?”
“Nick. He isn’t breathing.” Bella choked back a sob.
“CHARLOTTE!” Rog yelled. “Grab your bag! We need to move NOW!” His shout woke her from a restless sleep.
“What’s wrong, Daddy?” She waddled out of the bedroom. The air was thick with tension.
“Chris needs you. It’s Nicky.”
They all got into the car and drove to Chris and Cade’s house. Fire and rescue were already there. Police cars were parked on the lawn, and already inside assessing the situation. Cade was hysterical, and Chris, distraught. Nicholas had suffocated in his crib and was gone.
Police were in the nursery, investigating the scene. Rog swooped up Greg, sobbing, holding the crying little boy in his arms. Bella hugged Christopher and just held him. Charlotte showed her hospital identification and the detectives allowed her into the nursery. Nick’s tiny body was lifeless, and the sight of him took her breath away.
“What happened, detective?” she asked, wiping tears from her eyes.
“The father reported the boy unresponsive when he checked him 30 minutes ago. Paramedics attempted to revive him, but he was already gone.” The detective was mechanical, but Charlotte understood. “Are you related to the family, Doctor?”
“The parents are my brother and sister-in-law. Detective, they would never hurt these children. Christopher and Cade are wonderful, capable parents.” Her heart was being ripped out, and she couldn’t even look at her nephew. The scene was just too painful to behold.
“We don’t suspect them, Dr. Jones. We believe it was an accidental death, but autopsy is mandatory, as you know, in a case like this.” Charlotte nodded.
She left the nursery and saw Chris, curled up in Bella’s arms. She looked around for Cade, and found her laying on the bedroom floor, shaking. “Cady, oh honey,” Charlotte sat on the floor with her and wrapped her arms around her. “Cade, I’m here.”
“I want to die,” she muttered. “My baby… “ her words drowning in an ocean of sorrow. “My baby boy…” she repeated in between sobs. Chris, she thought. He should be here with her, not me.
“Cade, sweetie, I’m going to go get Chris. I’ll be right back.” Charlotte didn’t want to leave her alone, but she needed to get Chris in with her.
“Mama, I need Chris to come with me,” she said to Bella. Reluctantly, she released her embrace and Charlotte helped him up. “Chris, honey, Cady needs you.”
“Cady…” he said as Charlotte led him to the bedroom. When he saw her, he started to sob again. “Cady… I’m so sorry,” he cried. He plopped on the floor, and they embraced and cried together.
The detectives were wrapping up the investigation, and the coroner took Nicholas’ body from the house in a tiny bag. “Dr. Jones, can we see you for a moment?”
Charlotte stepped into the kitchen with the lead detective. “Our official determination is accidental death, pending the result of the child’s autopsy.” He handed his card to her. “If you have any other questions, you can contact the department.” He lowered his eyes and removed his hat. “Please accept our sincerest condolences. This is one of the saddest things I’ve ever done in my whole career.”
“Thank you, detective.” Charlotte wept openly, tears streaming down her face.
She looked around at the scene of devastation in the house. All she heard was her family’s mournful wails. She dialed Travis’ phone number.
“I need you,” she cried. “Please come home.”
“Charlotte, what happened? Is the baby okay?” Travis was panicked.
“It’s not me. It’s Nicky.” She choked on a sob. “Come to Chris’ house. Baby, I need you.”
Travis approached his coach. “There’s an emergency at home, coach. I need to go.”
“Travis, we’re in the middle of practice. I can’t let you just walk out. You’re my star player.”
He gathered his duffel bag and slung it over his shoulder. “I’m sorry, man. My family is always going to take priority over this job. If you fire me, then you do what you need to do. My wife needs me.”
Travis was shaking the entire drive to Chris and Cade’s house. Ten minutes later, he arrived, the ambulance still outside the house. Frantic, he ran into a scene of utter chaos. “What happened?” he cried.
“Honeybear!” Charlotte called, running to him. She flung herself at him, and he caught her in a sturdy embrace. “Nicky is gone.”
He hugged Charlotte close and wept. “Oh my goodness,” he exclaimed. “What happened?”
“He just suffocated in his sleep.” She looked at him, her face puffy and red. “Travis, I can’t believe this.”
Bella cradled a sleeping Greg in her arms as he sucked on his binky. Rog went to check on Chris and Cade and told them they were not staying at their house for the night. Cade had fallen asleep in Chris’ arms, as he sat and rocked with her, wrapped around each other.
“You shouldn’t be here alone tonight,” Rog said to Chris. “That is not a suggestion.” He wanted to keep an eye on Cade, as she seemed despondent. He was afraid for her, especially after what Charlotte had told him she had said. Charlotte grabbed Cade’s diaper bag and packed a couple of days’ worth of clothes in it for Greg. Bella took it from her and put the baby in the car seat, and she and Rog took him back to the house.
“Chris,” Charlotte said. “Mama and Daddy have Greg. Come on, you guys can sleep in our bed tonight.” Chris didn’t want to move.
“Cady is sleeping, and I’m afraid to wake her,” he protested.
She looked at Travis. “Do you mind if I stay here with them tonight? She needs someone to look after her, and I have things in my bag that can help her if she wakes up hysterical again.”
Travis shook his head. “Baby, I don’t mind, honey. But your dad wants everyone back at the house. He has a point.”
“Come on Chris,” she encouraged. Travis helped get him up, and Cady lay prone on the floor, sound asleep. With seemingly superhuman strength, Travis picked her up and brought her to the car, and laid her in the back seat. She pulled her brother to her and hugged him tightly. “Chris, we love you, and we’re all going to get through this together, whatever it takes.”
“Thanks, Charli,” he said, exhausted. “It’s not real. This didn’t really happen. Did it? I mean, Nicky is at Mom and Dad’s, right?”
Her heart shattered into a million pieces. “No, honey. Nicky is really gone.” She hugged him close. “It will be okay, come on. Cady is waiting for you in the car.” Travis was already in the driver seat and was waiting for Chris. Charlotte helped him into the car and buckled him in. She got into the back seat with Cady, squeezed in among two car seats.
Travis carried Cade to their bedroom and laid her on their bed. Chris walked up the stairs under his own power, but was out of it, in complete denial of the evening’s events. She tucked both Chris and Cade into their bed. Rog had already pulled the crib from the nursery into Charlotte and Travis’ bedroom, and Greg was sound asleep, no worse for the wear, right near their bedside. For now, everyone was calm, but Charlotte and Rog stayed awake, listening for signs of trouble, sleeping in shifts. She was already on maternity leave from her job at the hospital.
The violinist played “Amazing Grace,” as Nick’s tiny coffin was lowered into the ground. Cade St John swayed side to side, tormented by the sight of her firstborn son’s coffin. She was dressed in black. The only family member on her side of the family who cared enough to come was her older brother Hank. Her shoulders heaved in sorrow, and a few rows back, a baby, her son Greg, cried. Christopher, dressed in a black suit and sunglasses, sat beside his wife, his arm around her, grieving an unimaginable loss. Pastor Mark Murphy prayed a blessing over the mourning parents, and the service was concluded.
Bella approached the pastor and shook his hand. “Thank you, Pastor Mark, for everything.” Rog had a sleeping Gregory in his arms, and nodded to the pastor.
“I’m sorry it had to be under such distressing circumstances, Bella.” He offered a hug, and she accepted it.
Cade sat quietly, still rocking back and forth. She hadn’t said much since Nicky’s passing, nor had she done much childcare. Chris had to step up and be a father and mother to their surviving son. “Come on, love,” Chris said to her, taking her arm. “It’s time to go home.”
“Leave me alone,” Cade said, shaking her head. “I want to die.”
“You can’t leave me, Cady,” Chris pleaded. “I still need you. Greg still needs you.” He swallowed hard. “Please, sweetie. Come back to me.”
“I want to die,” Cady repeated. Chris looked to Hank for help.
“Come on, Cade,” Hank said to her, lifting her chin so her eyes met his. He noticed how much older she looked and sighed. “Your family needs you.” He picked her up and carried her on his shoulder, her arms swinging lifelessly as he walked with her. Hank set her down in front of Rog, who had been sitting with Greg on his lap. “You see this little boy? He needs his mommy, Cade. Snap out of this funk. Don’t you see? You still have a baby boy who needs you.”
She held her arms out for Greg, and he willingly went to her. “My baby boy,” she said, covering his face in kisses. “Oh Greg,” she lamented, “I hope you will remember your brother.” Hank stayed with her, encouraging her to engage, while Chris, Cade, and Hank all cried together.
Rog was so proud of Bella. He knew she was in pain, emotional torment, but she remained strong for Chris and his wife. In the face of everything, she remained a rock for the family, and she was steadfast in her support, for everyone. But Nicky’s sudden death opened up old wounds and stoked new fears for Charlotte and Travis, their baby due soon.
A few days after Nicky’s funeral, the lead detective called Charlotte. “Dr. Jones, we’ve been trying to reach Mr. St John regarding the autopsy report for Nicholas. Is he available?”
“If you don’t mind, Detective, I will take the information and pass it on to my family.” She didn’t believe Chris could handle any more news, good or bad, regarding Nick.
“Very well,” he said. “The autopsy confirms our report at the scene. He suffered asphyxiation from an unknown cause. The tox report is negative on all substances. There will be no charges, and the surviving boy is safe to remain with his parents.”
Charlotte smiled at the good news. “Thank you, Detective. You may contact me if there is anything else to report.”
“Thank you, Doctor. Again, we are very sorry about your family’s loss.”
Charlotte pulled Rog aside. “That was the detective, Daddy. No charges will be filed. Nicky’s death was accidental. Tox report was negative.”
Rog nodded his head. “We expected this outcome, so I’m not surprised.”
“At least Chris and Cade are cleared. They are free to take custody of Greg and bring him home.”
“When they’re ready,” Rog added. “I know your Mama loves having them here.”
“That might be a problem soon,” Charlotte replied, pointing at her very large belly. “I’m about ready to pop.”
“We’ll figure something out. Don’t you worry.” Rog hugged her.
A week later, Chris realized the imposition he and Cade were on Travis and Charlotte. She needed to be in her own bed, being so far along in her pregnancy. Cade was feeling better, though not perfect, so they packed up their belongings.
“Dad, it’s time I brought my family home. It’s something we all have to face, but we still have each other.” Chris had Greg on his hip, and the diaper bag slung over his shoulder. “I think we’re ready.”
“Thank you so much, Dad,” Cade hugged Rog. He truly felt like her own flesh and blood, and she adored both Rog and Bella immensely, much more so than her own family, save for Hank.
“You’re welcome, Cady. I’m here if you need me.” He hugged her. “I’m so proud of you.” She smiled.
“Take good care of my babies, Christopher,” Bella hugged him. Over the past few weeks, Bella and Cade had gotten extremely close. Cade gave Bella a bear hug and kissed her cheek.
“Thanks, Mama Bella,” she said. “I owe you my life.”
“I love you, Cady,” Bella replied. “Never forget that.”
Chris put Greg into the car seat and packed their cases into the trunk. Cade waved to Charlotte, Travis, Bella, and Rog as Chris drove away from the house, to their new life without their son.
Author’s Note: This sub-chapter was driven by an in-game event that I neither foresaw nor wanted. It was never my intention to need to write about the death of a two-year-old toddler, but the game, for some reason, saw fit to eliminate Chris and Cade’s twin son, Nick. I suppose I could have chosen to leave this out of the story, but since the baby’s death will impact their in-game memories, I felt it necessary to include. I do not know how Nicky died in the game. I wasn’t even aware that toddlers in The Sims 3 could perish, so I learned something new myself.
This event was difficult to comprehend, and even more difficult to write. But, in real life, not every pregnancy leads to a healthy baby, and not every baby lives to see adulthood. It is a not-so-pretty fact, and in my attempt to keep my stories relevant, I write about topics that are not always fun.
Thank you for your understanding, and thank you for reading! ~ Wendy
Up Next: Chapter Five, Generation Four