Squealing with delight, my boy and girl pounce, tug and push on their Daddy’s arms and legs, determined to show him their strength, to break-free of his hold.  From the kitchen, I watch this wrestling match play-out in the middle of our living room floor.  My husband’s tiny opponents keep coming back for more until he surrenders, at last,  from the exhaustion of grappling with squirming legs and sharp elbows.

I wrestle, too.  Only, instead of rolling around on the living room floor, I wrestle in my head, with God.  I wrestle with the sudden loss of a dear aunt just days after Christmas.  Death is a natural part of our life here on Earth.  But how do we fill the hole in our souls when we lose a family member who treated us like her own children?  Driving several hours just to attend the birthday parties of my little ones,  sitting with my boy and girl on the porch swing on long afternoons, and taking extended walks together along the surf’s edge each summer.  How do we adjust to the absence of this small, but mighty lady?  The quirky aunt who captured our own hearts as small girls with her signature style and undivided attention?

My family and I, we move through the motions.  And then, my girl falls ill just days after returning my beloved aunt to the earth.  As sickness often does in families, my boy picks-up where my girl leaves-off, ten days later.  I spend these weeks nursing ailing bodies and hurting spirits.  And, I wrestle.  Just as Jacob wrestled with God.  Bless me Lord, just as you blessed Jacob.  I will not give-up until you give me a blessing!  (Genesis 32: 26)

Weary of struggling, I write in my journal, trying to work my way-out of this wrestling match.  I check e-mail, my eyes pausing at the title to Stephanie’s blog post – Remember to Breathe Out.  I remember to practice breathing in grace.  But, have I breathed out, lately?  Have I breathed out the sadness? the anxiety? the isolation?   And then the familiar words come to me:

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.  – Psalm 55: 22

“Breathe out your worries to make more room for my grace,”  He whispers to me.  I surrender and the wrestling match is over.  I am blessed with a peaceful heart.

In loving memory of Suzanne P. Carrington

January 12, 1945 – December 27, 2011