We needed to get our day started. Really. It was the beginning of a new homeschool week, and the morning was crawling closer and closer towards the afternoon. I looked across the room at my girls, ready to tell them it was time to head upstairs and get started.

They were totally immersed in the imaginary world they had created in our living room. They were laughing and smiling and making silly voices for their toys. It was priceless, but I still started to open my mouth to interrupt it all and get our school day going.

But then her voice and her words echoed in my mind, and I stopped myself.

“Take care of each other, because one day it will just be the two of you, and you will need one another.”

My brother and I heard those words endlessly from our mom. She ingrained that idea into us—how one day she and my dad would be gone, and we would only have the relationship we built with one another to stand on. So we needed to need each other. We needed to love each other. We needed to protect each other.

So I let them play together longer.

Some days my girls are at each other’s throats all day. They argue and they push each other’s buttons, because that’s what siblings do. And I try to help them resolve it, or I sit back and let them work it out themselves. But on those days, I want so badly to hear them talking and laughing and enjoying one another. This morning they were doing just that.

So I let it be.

My favorite moment in my life is the one in which I watched my daughters meet one another. It was the most important thing I have ever seen, and I have loved watching them become the sisters they are to one another. My mom used to tell me when my youngest was a newborn, and the days were long and challenging, that one day I would be able to sit back and quietly watch my daughters play together. That it wouldn’t be as hard as it was in the early days of having a newborn and a three-year-old. She told me that it would be amazing to see them create their own relationship, independent of me.

So I sat quietly and watched and listened, and let them play together longer.

My brother was my sidekick as a child (or I was his, depending on the day). We had the same hobbies, the same friends, the same interests, and the same completely weird sense of humor. My brother made this friend when he was eleven that he thought the world of, and I grew up and married that guy. My brother was our best man.

No matter what I faced, or he faced, my brother and I had each other. We have seen great things for each other, and we have seen each other suffer. But we have had one another through it all.

“Take care of each other, because one day it will just be the two of you, and you will need one another.”

I want my girls to have that kind of relationship with each other, so I let them play together longer.

My brother and I lost our mom three years ago. She was too young, and so were we. But anyone who loses a parent is never, ever ready for it. You never feel old enough to face the world without your parents.

But my mom prepared us, because she gave us each other. She let us have every moment together that we could, and she told us to cherish it. We built ridiculous Lego villages. We ran around our yard until it was dark, making up games that made no sense. We got older and drove for hours blasting Ben Folds Five out of the car windows. We graduated a day apart from the same college (because of course he just had to be a genius and graduate a year early). We became adults and worked for the same company for years. My mom built that.

And when my mom left us, she proved herself right (as usual) that one day we would be without her, and our relationship as siblings would be crucial. And it is, because we need each other now more than we ever have. One day my girls will need each other that much too.

So today I let them play together longer.

Hannah Angstadt-Gunning

Hannah is a former full-time working turned stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. She is a contributing writer and co-editor for Columbia SC Mom’s Blog. You can also find her at her blog, Palindromic Musings, where she writes about living with and navigating through grief, and on Twitter.  She is passionate about writing, painting, social justice, wine, and raising strong women. Hannah lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband and two young daughters, and is an alumni of the University of South Carolina and devoted Gamecock fan.