On an early morning coffee run to Starbucks I am reminded how so much of what we perceive is never really the story. Standing in line behind a mom and her four kids, irritation started to creep up at the thought of waiting for them to decide what they wanted to drink. The Mom’s brunette hair was long, but not completely straight. It seems she was in a hurry because half of her hair was flat-ironed, while other strands curled up into smile. She wore a long light-blue dress and kept flashing her ring finger that sported a 2 carat diamond ring. Each time she placed an order, another child whispered, “Mom, I really want a mint-chocolate chip frappuccino.” She complied and told the barista, “Scratch the second green tea and add the frappuccino.”

All the children, 2 boys and 2 girls, were dressed in their Sunday best, even though it was Monday morning. This observation evoked my curiosity. The boys, ages ten and twelve, wore matching suits, while the older girls, their dresses did not possess a single wrinkle. One of the girls had a single yellow rose that peeked over the bun in her hair. As the Starbucks barista rang up their order, she asked the question I wondered about, “All of you are dressed so nicely for a Monday morning. What’s the special occasion?”

With a straight face, the mom said, “Funeral.”

Her response startled me. Looking at them and how they bantered about their coffee choices, I never fathomed or thought of the word funeral as a possible response.

All morning I contemplated what I witnessed. Over and over again, I mull over this question, “Do we ever really know the story?” In a word, no. But as we all observe and we make our own judgments. We fill in, sometimes to our detriment, the gaps that are invisible. I am reminded of this lesson at the most random times.

They fall into my lap, pushing me to investigate my own notions of what I believe and what really is the truth. I return again and again to this conclusion, what we see is only a fraction of the truth.