Sometimes it doesn’t take more than three little words to convey an important message. “I love you” always hits home. “It’s a girl (or boy)” packs a mighty wallop.

I have a new three-little-word message. Probably not intended as that, but I’m adopting it as such anyway.

At this point in life, we’ve all had stuff come our way, stuff that we could have done nicely without. Sometimes it just keeps on coming. It becomes part of our lives but not necessarily a welcome part.

We deal with it, but it’s always there, in the background. Making humming noises to be sure we don’t forget it.

But at some point our personal issues lose value as conversation pieces. Friends and family give us those blank looks, as if to say, “Not again, please. We’ve heard enough.”

They’ve already responded generously and appropriately to the crisis du jour and don’t feel an urge to do it again. Everybody’s got stuff, and time marches on.

It’s not that we forget our friends, or that they’ve forgotten us. It’s that other, newer, more urgent things get in the way, demanding attention.

Enter my new three-little-word message:

“Just checking in.”

Those words, and only those words, came in an email from a friend I don’t see often but who knows that things have, in recent weeks, been a little rough around the edges for our whole family.

She wasn’t offering to do anything grand for us. (We didn’t need that.)

She wasn’t asking me to detail our current issues. (That would have been too much information.)

She was “just checking in.” No response necessary. No action on my part required. But, she opened the door. Just in case.

It struck me as such a simple way for her to tell me that we were present in her mind and heart, and she took that moment to let me know.

It packed a real wallop for me, and I hope I remember to “just check in” with friends in the future. Not to intrude but to open the door if someone wants to walk in.

Sallie Collins enjoys living on the banks of the May River and writes about it in her blog,, from which this article is taken.