I had not seen someone order a banana split in years. Truly they are works of art — from the color arrangement to the balance of warmth to cold, sweet to salty, to the transference of food to childlike fun. I have been thinking a lot lately about banana splits; in truth, about a banana split and a particular gentleman.

My daughter recently ordered a banana split at the local ice cream shop. She decided to tackle it as we drove about town. She would take breaks, putting the banana boat inside an open compartment near the passenger seat where she was sitting. Eventually, she finished most of it, but it took a long time (and a little help from Mom).

As the days have moved along, I have looked at the now empty compartment next to the passenger seat and visualized the banana split which was once there. I know it may seem silly, but I have even brushed my hand across the spot, recalling my daughter’s laughter as she tried tirelessly to eat one bite after another. I can still see her smiling, with sticky hot fudge upon her fingers.

Upon the memory of what once was there, I couldn’t help but have a twinge in my heart for an older gentleman we encountered the very same day my daughter purchased her banana split. This gentleman I have seen many times, though I can’t say I know him well.

I have learned that much of what we think we know about others is actually just one looped lace in a shoe — not enough to afford a solid footing. Our notions only carry us so far. Usually our imaginations, indifference, and judgments eventually gift us the occasional stubbed toe. Only then do we realize just how little we know about those around us. Or better, just how alike we are more than different.

Meeting this man was my gift of a stubbed toe.

He didn’t recognize me at first, as he was seeing me outside the location he normally would notice me and without my glasses. We chitchatted a bit, and then he mentioned something that immediately took me to a familiar ache from my own life story.

In spotting his grandson rush past, he said with a tender grief for someone he loves so purely that I cannot honor her justly with words, “I take care of my grandkids often, but it is still difficult to go home to an empty house each night.”

His wife had passed. I had no idea. I knew so little.

Days later, I brushed my hand across once more where then banana split had recently been. I could almost hear my daughter’s laughter fill the car. The memory was almost tangible. I couldn’t help but think upon the man we met at the store. I, too, dear gentleman, have the ache of having someone very dear to me go first into Heaven — I have memories that are almost tangible. The banana split connected me to this this man, which connected me to my someone special whom I miss. Funny what triggers you. The art of missing: Surrendering what we thought would happen to God’s will, and balancing the remembrance of yesterday while not cheating today.

Oh, God, we are incapable of doing this life with any measure of success without you. May we learn to take a wider view of one another through your eyes, understanding that what we know is truly little. And may your compassion be our teacher as we embrace this beautiful life together.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

SGLY, dear reader.

(Smile, God Loves You.)

Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian writer and an opinion columnist. To submit feedback on SGLY or to offer a specific topic idea, please contact Chartier at news@ amtrib. com. Follow Chartier on Face - book: facebook. com/ tiffanychartier and Twitter: @tiffany chartier