When people think of addicts they think of junkies, bums, has-beens, bad fathers, brothers, sons or uncles. My father, Rey Gispert, was none of those things. He was a hardworking man, who would do anything to protect his family, which he did on a daily basis. He was full of life and would leave people laughing in tears, until he tore his ACL. He was given 30mg of OxyContin when “oxys” had just come out. He was told they were non addictive.
I remember the day, some time in 2000, in Miami, Florida. I was in the fourth grade. His eyes were glossy, eyelids low and slowed speech. From that point on when he was no longer able to get prescriptions I was sent on long drives to go see a “friend” and pick up a package for him. This happened many times. He would’ve gone himself but the withdrawals were too much and he couldn’t move. He explained to me what to do in case I was stopped. I didn’t understand why until I looked inside the brown bag and saw 100 pain (probably Percocet) pills. From then on he was physically with us but not mentally.
My story also began with that brown bag but I am here to talk about my father. As you can imagine he resorted to cheaper and more dangerous ways of getting high such as using heroin intravenously. I remember picking up my year medallion of sobriety and him taking me home and shooting up heroin right next to me. I knew from that point on I lost my father. He was no longer the man I looked up to, the man I could go to for advice. But, he was still the man if I was ever in trouble would drop whatever he was doing and come to my defense.
The last memory I have of my father was him picking me up from work which he never did. I had the next day off and saw him sitting slouched over on his bed in an orange polo and jeans. I’d check in on him to make sure he was still breathing. He was my next door neighbor so it was convenient and usual for me to do these checkups. I remember telling my then boyfriend, who is now my husband, that after I picked up my son from school I would scare my dad awake and take him to a meeting. When I came back from that 15 min. drive I saw officers and my brother outside crying. My heart dropped. I knew at that moment I would not be able to wake up my father and go to a meeting. I told my son to go next door. I asked the officer what was going on but instead I had my brother yelling at me to go inside and find out for myself. I couldn’t stomach the hurt of going inside and seeing my father dead. I asked the officer again what was going on? He said, “ I cannot say at this moment.” I told him, “he didn’t need to say another word. I work in the trauma unit and you already gave me the answer.”
This was May 25th, 2017. My father would not be there to walk me down the aisle in 2018 see his 2nd granddaughter’s birth. He would not be there to see my brother get clean. He would not be there to see his oldest grandson graduate 1st grade. That very same grandson, my son Mason told me, “I think Papi needed to drink more orange juice since it’s so healthy. If he drank more of it he would still be alive.” Today, I choose not to be a victim, but a voice, and to let everybody know you are not alone. This disease took 17yrs. to take his life and this is my testimony.