Thomas Manitopyes can't stop thinking about a phone call that came in Sunday night — a call from a close friend alerting him that his 24-year-old sister, Destiny Dawn Manitopyes, wasn't breathing.
"I didn't believe it," says Manitopyes. "She was my sister."
Manitopyes's sister was hanging out at her Atlantic Avenue home Sunday evening when she overdosed. Her family says the drug she was using was fentanyl.
Destiny leaves behind two young children, who Manitopyes says keep asking, "Where's Mommy?"
"They still don't even know. They are small babies," Mantiopyes said, fighting back tears.
While Manitopyes says his sister struggled at times throughout her life, she always managed to pick herself back up. Losing her father to cancer a couple of years ago was hard on the mother of two.
But Manitopyes never thought he'd lose his sister to drugs.
"It can happen to anybody. It's not worth it,"says Manitopyes. "Hear about people having close calls with the same stuff. Why did she try it?"
'An amazing spirit'
On Wednesday, dozens of people gathered at a candlelight vigil in front of the home where she died. The smell of sage filled the air, tears fell down the cheeks of loved ones and family members clung to one another. The sound of a drum beating could be heard for blocks.
Manitopyes's cousin, Aj'a Oliver, say the loss has shattered their entire family. She says her cousin was the type of girl who lit up every room she walked into.
"Destiny was an amazing spirit. She was very out-going, very funny. She always wanted to make people laugh. Always joking with everybody," Oliver said.
Oliver said the gathering was a chance to set Manitopyes's spirit free and an opportunity to raise awareness about the awful consequences using drugs can have on someone.
"It's a tremendous loss. It's a huge loss. There's no words to describe it," said Oliver.
"The thing that we do is come together and we support each other. That's what we're doing to move past this nightmare that we're living."
Oliver said Destiny's two children are in the care of their grandmother right now, and the family will make sure the kids are well taken care of and provided with the life their mother wanted them to have.
"She was a very caring mother. She took great care of her kids. They were very loved," Oliver said. "Just a wonderful person all around."
A funeral for Manitopyes will be held at Eternal Grace Funeral Home, on Thursday at 7 p.m.