“I love you” are perhaps three of the most used words in any language.

It’s something we hear from our spouse, our parents, our children, our siblings, friends and co-workers.

There are some certainties in life. I know I am loved. But, to the people who have spent their life loving me, do they know that I love them back?

Facebook allows us all to be friends. I can log on and comment on the status of a first cousin I haven’t seen in nearly 25 years. She’ll like my comment and write a reply. Either way, the lines of communication close a gap of more than 400 miles.

I can post pictures from yesteryears ... a picture of my great-grandparents, born in the late 1800s, long gone, but never forgotten. Or pictures of my nieces when they were younger, not capable of saying, ‘I love you, auntie.’ Oh, how time flies.

Years ago, my father died. There’s a kind of love that comes from being of the same bloodline, of descending from the same ancestors. There are these mannerisms that we have — the way we smile or step back when we’re awed. There are these commonalities that we share such as a love of travel, of the ocean and of basketball.

As a child growing up, my mother stressed the importance of staying close. She always said, “the world will teach you to hate, but, it’s your job to love each other.” So, even now, it bothers me when siblings don’t get along, or when they deliberately choose estrangement. I’m not saying that every relationship has to be rosy, but it definitely shouldn’t be thorny.

How many times have we swapped ‘I love yous?’ Too many to count. But, there are times in every relationship that the words simply will not do. So, if my brother calls, he doesn’t have to specifically ask for something. I can hear it in his voice. I’ll say ... I’m here; I’m your sister. That’s what sisters do. He’ll know by my actions that the love is there; that he is my brother and I’ll help. Not to be a crutch or to be codependent, but to be a stable presence in his life and the life of his Family.

We are the great-great grandchildren of Thomas Jefferson Bethea. The great-grandchildren of Wade Bethea. The grandchildren of Thomas Bethea. The children of James Bethea. We are brothers and sister, and we stand in the gap for each other. It honors the lives of our ancestors; it strengthens the bonds of our children. It is “I love you” put into action.

No matter how many times a Soldier deploys or redeploys, no matter where the call of duty carries that Soldier, may he or she always know that a Family, his or her Family, stands in the gap, ready to show up at Green Ramp or at Walter Reed ... may the Soldier know that there is always love — in action.