On April 10th, 2008, God gifted Ryan and Heidi Retzlaff with the birth of a son, Carter Ryan Retzlaff. Carter weighed 8 pounds, 13 ounces and was 21.5 inches long. He was his parents’ first born child. He was also the first born grandchild on both sides of his family. Needless to say, his arrival was highly anticipated. From the first moment Carter was born, he brought untold amounts of love, joy, and laughter to all those around him.
Carter loved his family dearly. This was evident even from the very first days of his life. During his stay in the maternity ward, doctors, nurses, and visitors would do there best to console little Carter during times of distress. Yet it was only Mom and Dad who were able to calm their precious boy with reassuring words and soothing touches. As Carter continued to grow he would squeal with delight when a loved one entered the room. At their arrival, he would greet them with a huge open-mouthed smile while bouncing his little arms and legs in excitement. Carter was fascinated with home videos and became very animated when he saw one of his parents, grandparents, uncles, or aunts on the screen. He instantly recognized those who loved him and those whom he loved.
Carter was a very very active little boy. Even before he could crawl he sought to squirm, climb, and pull himself to his desired location. Often his parents would realize he had awakened from his naps simply by hearing the “thump, thump” of his legs kicking against the mattress in his crib. He loved to play peek-a-boo by the railing with his Mom. He determinedly walked all around the house with minimal balancing help from his Dad. Carter also liked to play catch (roll the ball back and forth) with his parents. He even made his first basketball shot when he was seven months old. Bath time was also a favorite. Carter would squeal, splash, and giggle from the moment he got into the water until the moment he was picked up out of the tub.
Carter also loved to eat. Sweet potatoes were his favorite, but pretty much anything was fair game. Drinking water from a big boy glass was also a reason for great excitement. Going outside was a real treat. Carter was absolutely fascinated by what his senses experienced while exploring the outdoors. On the rare occasions when Carter was feeling sad, the sights, smells, and sounds of being outside immediately brightened his mood. One can only imagine what his senses are now experiencing in heaven.
Carter was also incredibly inquisitive and loved to have books read to him. Often he and his Dad would grab a book and nestle into the recliner. As Dad would read, Carter, with his big beautiful blue eyes, would periodically turn away from the book and look backward to his father. It was almost as if he was asking “Dad, what is this story all about anyway? Is that really you reading that story to me? I thought so, but I had to be sure.” Then he would turn back to finish the story. Carter also loved music. Every night, before bedtime, Carter’s Mom would sing to him. The two songs most often sung were “Jesus Loves Me” and “Amazing Grace”. These songs were followed up with hugs, kisses, and a goodnight prayer.
On December 13th, 2008, our Lord Jesus Christ called Carter home to be with Him. On that day, for unknown reasons, Carter suddenly and unexpectedly passed from this world into the presence of His Heavenly Father. At that time, God’s Word tells us angels escorted Carter into heaven. While Carter’s death was completely unexpected by his loved ones on earth, it did not surprise our Heavenly Father. In fact, the Bible tells us that God knew the exact amount of time Carter would live on this earth. The Bible also tells us that God had a specific purpose for Carter’s life. A prayer repeatedly prayed by Carter’s grandmother was that Carter would live a life worthy of the Lord… that through his life others might come into a relationship with Jesus Christ… and that one day Carter would stand in the presence of Jesus Christ in heaven. God was faithful in answering her prayer.
Carter’s life was immersed in love. It was a life filled with hugs and kisses, both given and received. Carter would reach out to touch a loved one’s face, and would snuggle in contentment when held close. The death of precious little Carter leaves a void in the hearts of all who knew him. He is greatly missed, always loved, and never forgotten. Yet we are comforted in knowing that Carter now lives in the arms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and we anxiously await the day that we will be reunited with him.
Celebrating the Life of Carter Retzlaff