[I originally wrote this for an acquaintance who asked me, “What reminders of love should I know? My husband has six months to live.” After he died, she thanked me for it.]

Love is rejoicing in the small before the big thing ever happens.

Love is listening with understanding first, then responding accordingly with tenderness or guidance second. Therefore, consider one another’s feelings and insight. Then, respond to it without defense.

Love acknowledges that not everything is worth fighting over when you have a relationship worth fighting for. Yet, it doesn’t disregard disagreements; how you resolve or do not resolve conflict is what determines its impact.

Love goes beyond “not going to bed angry.” It’s never walking away in discourse and making amends for which you may not later get the opportunity.

Love comes to a clear understanding. Don’t let emotions leave anything undone.

Love is safe and warm; it’s expressing your heart and being honest the first time.

Love is practicing open communication. Both your needs and theirs are important and are met when expressed in vulnerable, intimate, and deep conversations.

Love asks, “In what ways did I make you feel loved today?” and tries differently tomorrow if it isn’t answered well.

Carpe diem—seize the day—in love means taking the trip you keep putting off, saying what needs to be said, asking for help, and when you can, compromising in healthy ways.

Love is reminding yourself to “not sweat the small stuff” while being considerate of their annoyances.

Love is learning to slow life down: making sure your person knows they are valued and adored.

Love is displaying gratitude for all it’s worth. Remember, it isn’t enough to be with each other; you must also be present.

Love knows the extra pair of shoes she bought may be the last thing you hold when she’s dead. His left-over beer can and the dirty sock will make you wish he could do it again to be here.

Love is leaving a voicemail when a text is sometimes easier. Your person will play it after you’re gone, and hearing your voice will make the earth feel like home again.

Love is taking videos of everyday occurrences: cooking and dancing, getting together in common ways, the ordinary pieces of life that appear insignificant. Every moment is a memory. Videos offer you a living, breathing person in a way pictures cannot capture.

Love protects physically, mentally, emotionally, and all the other “—allys.” So, try your best not to break promises. Commit to what you know you can and will do. Look out for their best interest.

Love encourages, supports, and doesn’t easily give up.

Love is responsible; it takes accountability and seeks forgiveness through changed behavior.

Love is forgiving often. Wrongdoings are painful, and unforgiveness robs you of life, poisons love, and risks making you bitter.

Love understands the value of intention versus impact. The best intentions are only half the cause. Sometimes, the execution of well-meaning intentions fails, and its unfavorable impact outlasts the desired outcome. Remember both parts, whether you are the receiver or the giver.

Love knows it’s okay to give in a little. Two is a pair. You don’t have to do everything alone—even if you can. There’s value in interdependence.

Love is a choice you make each day, so love unconditionally, desiring their happiness and welfare without always needing it to benefit you.

Love others based on their character and not only on circumstance. Life has highs and lows. Where you are now, you won’t always be, and neither will they.

It’s been said countless times before me, but love is not what you say you’ll do but what you do. Love is a verb, and it requires action.

Remember that any love worth keeping should be celebrated, appreciated, and honored. When the time comes, you’ll either grieve and rejoice over how you did or grieve and regret how you did not. Like death, these outcomes are inevitable; the blessing is that you get to choose.

[Shared with anyone who may glean anything from it.]

[Shared in the highest honor of Jason and Michael, who died in February.]

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