Genuine, giving, adventurous, Prodigal Son, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Alejandro was a charismatic, outgoing, and adventurous boy. His younger brother, Alberto, has fond memories of playing with Alejandro as children. They were both full of curiosity and mischief. One time in their youth they wondered what would happen if they put gasoline in a coke bottle and stuffed a rag in the top and lit it. The large ﬂame surprised them both, and out of fear they quickly threw it away and it lit the street on ﬁre! They ran home and were afraid they had set the whole neighborhood on ﬁre, but it quickly went out.
Alberto remembers a family vacation to San Diego. At the hotel, still full of adventure and spontaneity, Alberto and Alejandro dared each other to jump off the roof of the three-story hotel into the pool. Alejandro backed out at the last minute, but little Alberto did it! No one was hurt and it was a story they told for a long time.
Alejandro was very good at soccer and his younger brother enjoyed watching his games and following him around while hanging out with his soccer friends. They had other siblings. Their older sister Brenda is 36, Alejandro was 33, Alberto is 28 and their younger sister Alicia is 22. Their older brother Daniel died from alcoholism. They enjoyed being together and just talking. Alejandro had three best friends growing up. They were all very close. One friend who also used drugs, made the decision to get into recovery after Alejandro died.
“Never take no for an answer,” was Alejandro’s motto. He learned to take life as an opportunity to change a situation rather than accept defeat. He was a problem-solver. He became an entrepreneur and successfully stepped into stock trading. Alejandro started and ran a successful restaurant called Taco Mex.
Alejandro was in the midst of a divorce when he died. His goal was to make enough money so he could provide for his daughters, Adelaine, 13, Alessandra, 9, Ariana, 7, and Aliyah, 4, and spend more time with them. They miss him very much.
The most difficult part of living with Alejandro while he was struggling with his substance use disorder (SUD) was seeing him change. He became aloof and angry. No one understood what was happening or where he was much of the time. His death opened their eyes to the truths about his drug misuse. Alberto feels he has a big task ahead to take care of Alejandro’s daughters. He has changed the way he thinks about people with SUD and realizes that it is a disease. He can see the loneliness and fear and how difficult it is for someone struggling with addiction.
In the last days of his life, while he was in jail, Alejandro recognized his own need for repentance and spiritual connection. He believed that those who are poor in spirit will gladly cast themselves on God’s grace, and he was ready to do so. He identiﬁed with the prodigal son in the Bible and was feeling hopeful that he could begin a new life, be forgiven, and make amends. It was never clear how Alejandro was given the fentanyl that killed him, but his family has a deep understanding that he was forgiven and that he is in a better place now.
Alejandro’s brother, Alberto, provided the information for this narrative.
May 14, 1991-January 23, 2023-Age 33
Portrait Artist: Shawn Faust
Narrative Writer: Lynn McKnight