There is a couple that comes into the Mustard Seed from time to time - Paul and JJ. I've seen Paul around a lot; he helped in the coffee bar one night while I was alone and he asked me some tax advice in April, but a month or two ago they came in together with the new love of their life: Thomas.
Thomas was six weeks old when I first met him, and over the weeks he grew bigger and brighter, into such a cute little guy. Paul absolutely glowed when he talked about Thomas, and showed him off to the community - I thought about their little family often throughout the week, and was so happy that Paul was happy.
Last night Paul and JJ walked in, and I should have know something was wrong by the look on JJ's face. I asked casually, "Where's young Thomas?" and JJ responded flaty, "24 hours ago he was taken by social services." I stood there, unable to fathom how their little darling could have been taken away, and had to choke back tears as I imagined their pain. They left before I could talk to them about it, but Sean filled me in - Thomas and their older daughter had been taken, and they had to go to court to try to get them back.
It was one more reminder that I have no idea what goes on with the Mustard Seed regulars when they leave our safe walls. I definitely don't think it was an abuse situation - Paul and JJ love Thomas to death, I can see that, but maybe they are leaving in a dirty apartment, maybe their neighbours are not the type you would want around small children, and someone must have thought the kids would be safer away from their parents.
And so throughout the rest of the night I thought of them as I handed out blankets and jackets to those who would be sleeping outside, and thought about all who I haven't seen in so long: Ricky, Clayton, and many nameless people whos faces are etched in my memory.
As I drove home, I saw a man lying on the sidewalk on the corner of Jasper and 99th street, nothing covering him.
There are so many sad stories.