I joined L'Arche as a live-in assistant almost a month ago. My second weekend here, I was on overnight duty for one of our core members who tends to wake up a lot during the night. When I meet him in the hallway at 2:30am, he's confused. You can see him thinking, I'm awake now. Why isn't everybody else awake? Don't we have things to be doing? But he's nonverbal, so he doesn't say any of this; he only utters noises you’d only understand if you take the time to know him. If I'm not there to help him use the bathroom and go back to bed, he will wander into the kitchen and start rearranging things, rearranging things in a way that only makes sense to himself. We don't want that. I help him use the bathroom, and then both of us go back to sleep. We keep a monitor on this core member while he sleeps so that when he gets up during the night, I'll wake up too and help him get back to bed. And much to my dismay, that monitor woke me up last Saturday at 2:30am, 3:30am, 4:30am, and 5:30am.
Here's the crazy thing: for the rest of the day, the most salient feeling that I felt toward this core member was an overwhelming fondness. Which is really quite strange. Sleep is almost sacred to me. I prioritize getting a good, uninterrupted 7-8 hours of sleep each night. When I don't get my sleep, I can get very grumpy very quickly. So I think that the fondness I felt toward him is really quite telling. When I encountered him confused in the hallway at 2:30am, knowing that without some help he probably wouldn't go back to sleep anytime soon, the grumpiness I expected to have melted away. Instead, I smiled, took his hand, and said, “Come on, buddy, let's go back to sleep.”
-Cameron Coulter, Live-in Assistant