I had a moment this morning when I felt a twinge of something that shocked me. I think it’s ok, think it’s normal, but its sudden ferocity and piercing intensity stunned me. Briar and Avery had been playing together all morning. There was no of the usual scrapping over toys or boxing out of the preferred seat. It was just two sisters playing, taking turns leading and following and each doing so with a twinkle and a smile.

It was a few moments into the disruption caused by the announcement of nap time. Avery had been railing up in her room, incensed that the fun had to end. Briar was downstairs with me, pacing, torn between helping her sister and escaping a nap herself. She was looking at me when Avery’s voice echoed down the stairs, “Briii-ar!”

We looked at each other. “Briii-ar. Want Briii-ar.”

It reminded me of the moment in The Last Unicorn when, despite her affection for the people she has met, the unicorn must go. I said to Briar, “You can go up and calm her down , but you’ll have to take a nap, or you can stay here.”

“Brii-ar,” traveled down the stairs, followed by mournful sobs, Briar’s body leaned into the call and then she turned to me, “I have to go.” Sean called, “C’mon up, Briar,” and then there was silence. Avery knew Briar was coming and that was enough. I watched Briar’s feet disappear up the stairs, heard them as they picked up speed as she got closer to her room and her sister. I could swear the light shifted, brightened, as Briar went to her.

I sat, an ache catching in my throat and an emptiness chilling me, as someone else offered the Avery the comfort she needed. It was Briar she wanted, her sister, and the sudden awareness of not being something to Avery rocked me. I envied Briar her place in life, Avery’s haven, her light and her constant through a lifetime of joys and sorrows. They are sisters, and though they tangle and clash, they have an inimitable connection. It is something I do not have, but after the shock, there is the peace of knowing that it is something I gave them.