Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Every Word

Spencer
Spencer, originally uploaded by Diana Kimball.

Last week, my brother Spencer tried to kill himself. He swallowed fifty pills, an enormous overdose of anti-depressants. He survived. And was rushed to the hospital, but stayed sedated for five days while the doctors waited for all the serotonin to leave. On Saturday afternoon, his fever spiked suddenly, without explanation. Meanwhile, his blood pressure dropped. By the evening, he was in critical condition. The surgeon tried to get his heart to start again. Spencer died before midnight.

My brother suffered from anxiety and depression for most of his life, and was hospitalized for suicidal ideation in 2007. This did not come out of nowhere. But there is no way I can believe that it’s true.

This is how it’s true.

On Monday, I got a call on the train home from work, Mountain View to San Francisco. “Spencer's okay,” my mom told me. I worried all week. But everyone thought he would live. The question was how—how would he go on after he woke up; not whether. On Thursday, things took a turn for the worse. We were still sure it was how. But I flew home to Ann Arbor anyway, on an overnight flight; choking on foreboding.

Friday morning, my flight arrived; I went to the hospital to see Spencer, without first sleeping. Later, I wrote that he looked like a hulking baby. Red hair tousled, eyes closed, tubes—restless in sedated sleep.

Machines bleating, we left. We were still exasperated: a futile feeling, staving off sadness with anger.

On Saturday, Spencer's condition deteriorated. An intern called in the morning; a surgeon called in the afternoon. We held our breath. Later, the hospital told us we needed to come immediately. We drove slowly, carefully—afraid to die.

___

Spencer knew he was going to die.

In the last letter he wrote, he insisted. “I've had a more or less good life, and I'm just at my breaking point. I think some people come into the world with a low tolerance for pain—I count myself among them, and I’m lucky I've had as much joy as I have.”

As empty as I feel, I know he meant every word.

___

Spencer Miles Kimball was born on April 21, 1989, and died on September 26, 2009, at the age of 20. He lived in Ann Arbor all his life, and was a junior at the University of Michigan. He is survived by his mother and father, Miles Kimball and Gail Cozzens Kimball, and two siblings—Diana and Jordan Kimball. He is predeceased by two sisters, Marianne Camilla (d. 1985) and Laura Beth (d. 1991).

Spencer was a writer and a poet. He loved his family and his friends fiercely, and was loyal to a fault. Music and reading were his solace and joy. He believed in the power of fiction and the elegance of truth.

27 comments:

David said...

My condolences, truly.

Eugene said...

Thoughts and prayers are with y'all.

Ice Piq said...

I am sorry for your and your family's loss. You gave him a beautiful tribute.

Jodi said...

My condolences go out to you and your family.

nickd said...

diana, we were incredibly sad to hear the news the other day. always know that you have 110% of erin and my support.

William Couch said...

Crestfallen. My best to you and your family. If you need anything...

Jon Pierce said...

I'm so sorry to hear that, Diana. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

David Cole said...

This was a beautiful article. I'm so sorry.

Cait! said...

Sweetheart, I'm so sorry. There are no real words that I can say right now, but my heart and mind are with you and your family right now. If you need me for anything, for any reason, you know I'm here for you.

"light of the world, hold me" - Mary Oliver

Michael Galpert said...

sorry for your loss. if u need someone to chat to im always around

Michael said...

So sorry. My condolences to your family.

Katie O'Shea said...

I can't express to you how sorry I am to hear this — it's clear from how you write about him that he was a wonderful, talented, & complex young man. My deepest sympathies go to you & to your family.

I want to give you the biggest, longest hug.

timoni said...

I'm so sorry.

Tiger Brown said...

I'm very very sorry to read about your loss Diana.

No one can say anything to make you feel better but knowing that people care will hopefully bring you some comfort.

- Tara

Tony said...

I'm so sorry. :(

Adam said...

My condolences to you and your family.

Welton said...

I'm so sorry for your truly heartbreaking loss.

motorbikematt said...

If only the sympathy from a complete stranger could help ease the pain of your loss. My sincerest condolences...

L.W. said...

Diana, I am so sorry. I barely knew him but I was always grateful to see him -- in class, in print -- and I am so very sorry to hear that he is gone, and that you must carry his loss. All my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family and his memory.

Mel said...

*hug*

Dennis said...

I don't know you, and you don't know me. I'm just a passer-byer who arrive through a google search on last.fm vs. imeem.

Sorry for your loss.

carrollcdc said...

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. I'm a friend and coauthor of your dad's and when I heard the news searched for more information and found your lovely and loving tribute. My heart goes out to you all.

Britta Gustafson said...

a couple days ago I had been just passing by your blog, and I read this, and I wanted to say something but didn't know how. trying again. somebody close to my family died too young recently, and I feel for you and your family. so much.

tara said...

My thoughts go out to you and to your family. I remember your brother walking with Maggie in the summer sun. He was smiling. Please know that my prayers are with you and with him.

Margaret Young said...

I grew up with many of Spencer's dear friends. You and your family are in my thoughts. We had the same Russian teacher, but not in the same semester. Once, I think she must have seen us talking, because told me several times that week how he was at the top of her class.I'm sorry that I didn't get to know him better. Thank you for sharing this.

Anne H said...

Diana -- your dad let me know about Spencer's passing. I didn't know your brother, but I feel a little now as if I did. You've honored him beautifully with your words. I am so very, very sorry for the tragedy your family has experience.

Akhila said...

Diana, I'm so sorry. You don't know me personally but I am sorry for your loss. It is incredibly sad when such an intelligent, talented life is lost from this earth. :(