The past 3 1/2 weeks of our lives how
been consumed with life support and planning the funeral
of our son Gabriel.
Our family has lived in Flagler
County for 15 years. We moved here while our four
children were still in elementary school.
In 1992, our 16 year old decided to move north to
live with his birth mother. During that year we received
telephone calls and letters with raving reviews of how
wonderful he was doing. Then we received a call from his
aunt that truly changed our lives forever.
She told us that if we didn�t get him into rehab and
back home, that he would die from drugs. Mom and son
were doing heroin.
Gabriel went through rehab, returned to his family,
attended a 12 step program and got his life back. He got
a job, his G.E.D. diploma, and bought a nice car.
Try he would. But we began to notice a pattern. He
would succeed for about 2 months. Then he would get in
minor trouble. He would do things would be expected from
a 12 year old. Just goofy, immature things. Then he
disappeared living in the woods of Palm Coast for
months. He spent a year in county jail, for what I do
not remember. He then moved to Ohio with a friend.
In November 1999, we received a letter, the first
contact in a year. Gabriel wrote that he met the most
beautiful young lady, they had a place of their own, he
was working steady, and there was to be a wedding. Also,
he had not had anything to drink, nor had he smoked pot
While the past 3 1/2 years had been filled with many
celebrationsbirth of our first grandchild,
great family holidays, etc., there have also been
Gabriel had not seen his birth mother since before he
went to rehab. But she re-entered his life to be part of
the celebrations mentioned above.
In June of this year, he left his wife and beautiful
16 month daughter in Ohio to return to his mother now
living in Apopka Florida. My husband and I both knew
that this was his death sentence.
Gabriel kept in contact by telephone and of course
told us all the great things happening in his life. In
July, we were vacationing in the Keys with our
daughter-in-law and grand baby. Early in the morning of
July 31rst, Thursday, I received a call from his birth
mother. He had overdosed, been airlifted to Florida
Hospital Orlando, and was on full life support.
What a very long ride from the Keys to Orlando it
was. I called the doctors throughout the trip for
updates on his condition. We felt they were desperately
trying to keep him alive until our arrival.
We arrived, were greeted by his birth mother and her
friends who were higher than kites. We couldn�t believe
that the doctors didn�t strap them down and have them
For days, the doctors gave us all kinds of hope. We
rode the roller coaster of emotions.
Gabriel was kept alive until Monday, August 11, 2003.
The family decided to take him off life support at 9:00
a.m. My husband and I quickly went to the Apopka police
department to get a copy of the police report and talk
to the investigating detective. This was suggested by a
nurse in ICU in case there was a case of neglect. In
reading the report, we were upset and shocked!
Gabriel�s birth mother reported that at 3:00 p.m. on
Wednesday, July 30th, that her son had taken oxycotin
and reported that his eyes were turned in opposite
directions and was very high! She left for work at 5:00
p.m. and returned home at 11:00 to find him sallow
breathing and not responding. These people lived in one
room She never even called 911 until 2:45 a.m. By then,
he had no pulse.
By the time he arrived at the hospital, he had
cardiac arrest 3 times. His lungs were filled with
fluid, his kidneys and liver were failing and filling
Gabriel died at 10:45 p.m. on August 11, 2003. Dad
had promised him that we would be there with him until
he left this world and we were.
On the morning of his funeral, Friday, August 15th,
surrounded by family, we had a 20 foot tree planted in
our front yard. Gabriel�s tree will bear fruit in
February, the month of his birth.
Kathryn A. Lopez