Category Archives: Reflections

5 years – it still…

Hey Syd – it’s Mom, Jack and Daddio here – 

Today is 5 years – just want you to know:

it still hurts
we still miss you
it still sucks
we still love you dearly.

Love ya – love ya more – you win!

On behalf of Diane, Jack and me, thank you to all of you that have supported us directly or indirectly over the last 5 years and followed us on CaringBridge.  It is greatly appreciated. 

If you have the opportunity, please also share a random act of kindness.  

Lastly…don’t forget to be

be kind
be friendly
be silly
never give up
be inclusive
be strong
be courageous


No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory of Time

Dear Syd,

Happy 22nd birthday.

There’s nothing I can say that I haven’t said before. Dad, Jack and I miss you more than ever. We still expect you to pull into the garage in your red Jeep (Libby) and walk in the house with a big smile on your face. But then reality sets in and we know your in the “big” house, God’s house. It still hurts and the panic sets in.

Why aren’t you here? I know you’re here, just not physically. I still can’t wrap my head around how it all happened. I relive it and can’t unsee it. It’s still a nightmare I wish I could wake up from but can’t. I have to go on and I’ve only been able to do that through my faith in Christ. Suffering sucks but it’s made my faith stronger. I try to live each day to the fullest without regret like you did…I do my best. 

Five birthdays five, that we’ve celebrated without you physically. We will celebrate you in New York this weekend and continue our Random Acts of Kindness in honor of you. And, of course, find some buttermilk pancakes to celebrate your birthday 🥰 Wherever we are, you are. I visualize you and Amanda running through acres and acres of beautiful wild flowers holding hands. Sweet. That gives me a little peace and a smile. Dad, Jack and I love you more and miss you more than ever. 



P.S. Yesterday we went to the 911 memorial. I can’t even describe the feeling of all those that lost their lives to this senseless tragedy. I remember watching this as it happened in 2001. It was heavy and emotional as we walked through the memorial and touched the names of all those that lost their lives. We just prayed for their families. Towards the very end of the tour, there was a quote that we found so beautiful to all those that know what it means to suffer a loss:

No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory of Time ~ Virgil

Patient Safety Documentary

What a beautiful post that Steve reminds us all to be kind and silly everyday. 💙

For the last three years, I have been praying about what we needed to do in Sydney’s memory so this tragedy never happens again. Unfortunately, you may have read from one of my previous posts, it was two years to the day that 17 year old Austin Silva died the exact same way. I continued to pray about what to do and last March (2018), Dr. Steve Yun, M.D., a Dental Anesthesiologist in Santa Ana, CA reached out to Steve and I through Sydney’s Foundation website. We spoke on the phone and thought everything he said was too good to be true because he was saying all the things I had been praying about. Fast forward, we met with Dr. Yun last May and witnessed what passion he has advocating for patient safety. We agreed to make a documentary in hopes of preventing any such tragedy again. 

The 5 minute documentary tells the story of Sydney and the need for patient safety during surgery.  It is a reminder to us all that the safety of the patient comes first. It is also to inform us that we need to be advocates for our children, family and friends when it comes to any type of surgery to be sure guidelines are followed. We can NEVER GIVE UP when it comes to patient safety. 

Thank you to all who have followed Syd’s story for the last 4 years and have prayed for us. Thank you for always talking to us about her…we love talking about her and finding out new stories…some good and some that we probably didn’t want to know 😜 It’s all of you and our faith that we have continued to be able to live our life More Like Syd.

Steve and I both laugh that we have a face for radio and not video 😀


Random Acts of Kindness Day

Happy 21st Birthday Syd!

Good day to all – Random Acts of Kindness Day.

So, in celebration of Syd’s 21stbirthday, go out today and make someone’s day just a little bit better.  “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”  Let’s all be a bit of BeMoreSyd today.  Happy Birthday Syd!  

As we settle into a new year, so many of us get caught up in our own lives and the bustle of our daily activities, forgetting, at times, that the simplest of things can have a significant impact on someone else. Kind acts and words don’t have to be dramatic to have a dramatic impact, and it’s crazy cool how it can really brighten someone’s day. A smile, a silly joke, a compliment, paying for a cup of coffee can all do the trick.


Happy 21st Birthday!

The girl knew how to have fun!

Happy 21st birthday Sydney Michele with only one “L”. I always thought we’d have your first “legal” glass of wine together or whatever your drink preference may have been…maybe you wouldn’t prefer any but you are a Galleger after all 😂

I continue to see signs of you everywhere but there is one sign you don’t have to send anymore. The week you were born, the washing machine broke. The week you were in the hospital, the washing machine broke. And now the week of your 21st birthday, the washing machine broke. Seriously? Maybe the message to me is new beginnings. It was a wonderful new beginning when you were born, a heartbreaking new beginning when you died and maybe this is a time for rebirth and additional healing for me. Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.

I went into your bathroom to smell your Bath & Body Works forever Red fragrance mist, savoring those last few ounces that you had left in the bottle. It reminds me so much of you, making me happy and sad all at the same time. I’m so grateful for that memory.

I never fully understood (nor did I want to) how much pain and suffering could draw one closer to God. I now know more than ever how it can Syd. I had a choice…I could try to do this new normal on my own or I could look to Him for my strength, comfort and HOPE. You made it easy for me to choose Hope in Him and the promise He has given me. That promise is that I will see you again. Without Him and His love for me, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I am today. I’m absolutely not saying it’s been easy but I’ve learned that I can be happy, while still missing you terribly. I’m learning to fill in the spaces, although there will always be an emptiness. I’m learning to find joy, even though there will always be sorrow. I’m continuing to try to be Strong and Courageous.

My tears may be far and few between now, but as I finish my letter to you, I can’t stop them from coming. I so wish you were here. As we light 21 candles in remembrance of you on your birthday, my wish is that we continue to see your light shine through all who love you.

I’ll love you till the end of time and then beyond,
#BeMoreSyd #StrongAndCourageous

Hey Syd, its Daddy-o

Hey Syd, its Daddy-o…

Sorry it has been so long since we chatted (like this).  Last time, I was powered by pure adrenaline, fear after spending 6 days with you in the hospital and knowing there will be a rough road ahead for us.  Over the last three years, Mom has had the strength and words to document our feelings and changes in our lives; she has been incredibly articulate and graceful in doing so.  She is the writer of the family and I am no competition.  So, after three years, I sit here with tears in my eyes; it’s now time for us to catch up.

Hey Syd – we spent a fair amount of time over the last two years being your “voice” for what happened. KFP and her team were great in helping us do so and we greatly appreciate their expertise.  However, there is still more to do and to say.  We are working with a small group to create a documentary addressing safety measures that can be and should be done.  Unfortunately, I have a “face for radio” so it’s good the content and message of this documentary will be stronger than the actor.

Hey Syd – Jack is off to the U of St. Thomas this fall.  Mom and I are so very proud of him and his accomplishments as I am sure you are too. I am sad at times he has had to mature so quickly and those his age can’t understand what he is dealing with.  He does at times still have a swagger. The dude is slightly taller than me and he isn’t shy to remind me of such.  His grad party was a hit and he did a great job greeting folks.  Send him signs you are there, I know he misses you dearly and would appreciate it.

Hey Syd – I know that I told you Jack would continue to drive Libby but it was tough to do.  We did sell Libby to get a car for Jack, but every time I see a Libby on the road, I smile.

Hey Syd – as promised, I got a tattoo, so did Mom.  It was funny, Mom went back a few more times, she now likes tattoos.  Actually, 15 of us got inked on that day.   Jack also got one; we had to drive him down to Sioux Falls, SD to get it done because he wasn’t 18 yet but it was worth it.  He has since added a second tat, which says “Never Give Up”; as you know all too well is one of our family values.

Hey Syd – we still have not figured out a way into your phone.  What is on there you don’t want me to see?

Hey Syd – unfortunately you are not alone now with Austin and Kate.  Please let them know they are missed and loved as much as you are.

Hey Syd – I am looking forward to this evening; the girls and guys are coming over to make your pancakes. Love having them here; the energy, the laughter, their presence is always welcomed.  You have a great group of friends and your Mom and I are blessed to continue to have them in our lives.

Hey Syd – keep sending me notes from above, yes I see them; the first family trip without you and we got off the plane and directly in front of us was a Delta Air advertisement for a trip to Sydney, Australia, the car I followed a while ago that had a Minnesota license plate that said “SYDNEY”, a car in Nurburg, Germany while on spring break with #Sydney on the window and the sign in the dorm at TCU, to name a few.  It is clear to me, from that afternoon on campus, you and your sister would have been Horn Frogs.

Hey Syd – Pastor Lillejord coined the phrase “BeMoreSyd” and it has taken on a life of its own.  It is the web address of your foundation and its even on a race car (thanks Dr. W).  The EP students as well as other schools around town were great remembering and honoring BeMoreSyd over the last few years.    We still see the diver stickers on cars and blue brackets on folks.

Hey Syd – thanks by the way for bringing “Baby Blue” into my wardrobe.  It has a way of highlighting my increasingly gray hair.

Hey Syd – we are not going to do the golf outing this year.  While it was fun and it raised money for numerous scholarships, it is a ton of work for a lot of people and your Mom and I wanted all of the volunteers to enjoy their summer not having to plan for the golf event.  With that said, I still think we should have an informal Diving Contest one of these days.

Hey Syd – your foundation with FEPS has granted 23 scholarships totaling $57,500 over the last three years.  Divers, synchronize swimmers, skiers and those in DECA have benefited from your college scholarships.  While the golf tournament helped fund your foundation and Foundation for EP Schools (FEPS), if folks still want to donate they can via www.bemoresyd.orgor

Hey Syd – one of the things I struggle with is fully expressing how appreciative I am for all that has been done to help us out over the last three years.  I fear at times I have not thanked everyone as sincerely as they deserve.  So many people have done so much for us with their generously, thoughtfulness and selfless acts, I don’t know how to thank everyone and fear I have missed someone.   If you have any ideas on how I can simply say THANK YOU to all, send them my way.

Hey Syd – again, sorry it has taken so long for me to share this, but know that you are greatly missed and loved by many; for me it still hurts terribly and I struggle with how brutally unfair this is, but always remember,

Love ya, love ya more…you win.  Daddy-o.


Happy 20th Birthday!

As you celebrate your 20th birthday in heaven Syd, our hearts still ache for you every day. I imagine your days are filled with glory where there are no tears, no sadness or sorrow.

There’s nothing I can say that I haven’t said before
Our life changed forever
When God blessed us with you
It changed again forever
When He called you home too soon
Our time is stamped in stillness

Your room remains the same
Not one new photo of you to put on your wall
Everything stopped when Jesus called you home
Our time is stamped in stillness

We miss your smiling face
We miss your infectious laughter
You always had such grace
And taught us what really mattered
Those times are stamped in stillness

I know you’re not alone
You have your sister and your cousin
And so many other’s we know
Sadly way more than a dozen

Our suffering has not gone in vain
He has given us faith to rise above
We know you are still near
You give signs to us everywhere
Our hearts still ache more than one can envision
Keeping your spirit alive is our ambition
If I could have just one last wish
It would be for you to be here
We miss you every day
Our time is stamped in stillness…until we meet again

Happy birthday Sydney Galleger 💙👼
Always love you more


Justice for Syd/Healing Hand of God


Well, I really wasn’t ready to send my letter yet, but when the news media gets ahold of information, it forces me to do things quicker. We’ve been focused on getting ready for the holidays and not on what has recently transpired. The media has been on top of Sydney’s story but we again have chosen not to talk with them. When people hear a story about someone receiving a large settlement, they tend to think that greed is the motivation. That’s ok. People are entitled to their opinion.  However, those are the people that don’t know Syd’s story, people that don’t know us. All I can do is pray for those people that they never walk in our shoes, that they never have to make decisions that you hope will change rules and regulations so this tragedy won’t happen again. Money is not a motivator. Money will NEVER bring our daughter back. For anyone to think that was our motivation, that’s probably why you don’t know us.  The majorities of dental professionals always do the right thing and are very ethical. We hope this is a wake-up call to the very small minority of professionals in the dental field who are unethical. You are dealing with the life of a person not a “thing.”  Is it easy to cut corners, for arrogance or greed? Eventually those corners will start to spiral and become a vicious circle. They may never get caught. But, what if they do? What if a life is lost because of it? Was it all worth cutting those corners? Wouldn’t doing the right thing all along be the logical choice? I wish it would have been because I wouldn’t be writing any of this and you wouldn’t be reading this and I could go on leading my boring, uneventful, private life.

Justice for Syd 

It’s been two and a half years and we are finally able to give Sydney the justice and voice she deserves. Grieving the loss of a child is not the normal order of life. Not being able to let others know how our healthy child died added another dimension of grief and anger.  In October, an out of court settlement was reached with the oral surgeon, Paul Tompach, who performed the wisdom teeth surgery on Sydney on June 9th of 2015. In addition to an insurance settlement, Mr. Tompach was personally responsible to pay an agreed-upon sum of money. While no amount of money will ever bring Sydney back or replace her life, we were satisfied that he was held personally accountable as well.  In the majority of lawsuits, a Confidentiality Agreement and a No Admission of Liability (no admission of wrongdoing) are normally signed. In our lawsuit, Tompach and his attorneys waived both the Confidentiality Agreement and the No Admission of Liability.

How it all started

When we moved to Minnesota in 2005, we moved next door to Tompach’s (future) wife, Tracy. We were friends many years before she met Tompach. Steve’s family had a long history of 30 plus years with Tracy’s family. Sydney babysat her children often and once she married Tompach, she babysat his children too. They trusted Sydney with their children, knowing she would take care of them.

In the early part of 2015, we were advised it was time to have Sydney’s wisdom teeth removed. After spending a plethora on orthodontia to make her teeth look beautiful, we didn’t want her wisdom teeth ruining that smile. It seems to be “a right of passage” as a teenager to have your wisdom teeth removed. I did, Steve did. Jack, yea, maybe not. The Tompach’s were at our home sometime after I knew Sydney would need to have her wisdom teeth removed and I remember the conversation as I stood in my kitchen so vividly. Tracy Tompach said, “He’s the best there is.”  Those words haunt me daily. I trusted that my child would be taken care of just as they had trusted Sydney to take care of their children. And after all, we were friends. I made a call to his office to have her wisdom teeth removed and scheduled it for June 9, 2015. I asked if she needed to come in for a consult and the answer was, “no.”

On June 9th, 2015, Sydney and I arrived at Tompach’s office early and filled out the necessary paperwork…which, was mysteriously never found.  Tompach came out to greet Sydney and me. He said he had looked at her x-rays and said it would be an easy surgery because her teeth were right at the surface. I walked back to the office with Sydney where her surgery would take place, stayed for a minute and then I made my way back to the waiting room. Little did I know, that would be the last time I would ever see her beautiful smile or hear the laughter in her voice.

As I sat in the waiting room for Sydney, Tompach’s receptionist approached me. Assuming she’s coming to tell me Sydney was done, the only words I heard were, “Sydney.” “Cardiac arrest.”  Shock sets in and I couldn’t understand what was happening. Sydney and those two words don’t go together. She’s healthy. That couldn’t be right. There must be a mistake. She was only having her wisdom teeth removed. I’ll spare the rest.  It’s a memory I wish I could erase but to this day, I can’t.

I recall Tompach eventually coming to the ER at Southdale Hospital, saying he doesn’t know what happened. He said he did everything he was supposed to. I was trying to save my daughter’s life and not judge him at the time. I even had the chaplain say a prayer for him that he doesn’t blame himself.

The Edina first responders, fire department and police department extended Sydney’s life that day and for that, we can’t thank them enough. Without them, we wouldn’t have had an extra six days with her. We also have to thank the University of Minnesota Children’s Masonic Hospital doctors and nurses for keeping her alive those 6 days and for being so gracious to our family and friends.

I still see her lying in that hospital bed, lifeless with all the machines and wires hooked up to keep her alive and all the split decisions we had to make.  Our sole focus was on trying to save our daughter’s life. We wanted to bring her home no matter what state she was in. Blaming the doctor (Tompach) did not even cross our mind. As a matter of fact, I still socialized with Tracy, his wife, up until November 2015 and exchanged texts up until the spring of 2016. Sydney’s lifeless body had been through so much in the hospital and we are so thankful that she donated her organs to save so many others. Most of the time I forget she saved lives. I have to turn that thinking around and be grateful for those that still live on because of her checking that donor box on her driver’s license. It’s an unnatural feeling when you have to walk behind a hospital bed, as doctors and nurses line the hallway as a sign of respect, only to have the operating doors close behind your loved one and you know you’ve said you last goodbye.

After Sydney died, we were determined to find out if anything was physically wrong with her. We needed to know for Jack’s sake. We needed that peace of mind. After the autopsy report and other testing on her tissues, sometime in November of 2015, the possibility of Tompach contributing in Sydney’s death became a thought. Things just didn’t seem clear.

 December 2015 – Still in the depths of our grief, we are dealing with sending tissues of Sydney’s heart to be tested for any genetic defects.  In January of 2016, we received news that she had no genetic defects in her heart. At this point we were knee deep in our grief and knew an investigation would eventually need to be addressed. However, we were not mentally ready and decided it could wait. Steve and I have never been litigious so this was a road we never wanted to travel. The only time we ever dealt with an attorney was to have our will drawn up after the kids were born. Otherwise, we like to stay as far away from attorneys as possible. But we knew eventually, we needed to seek the truth of what really happened.

February 22nd, 2016 – The home phone rings. Caller ID says it’s the Star Tribune. I answer, ready with my pitch that I don’t need a newspaper subscription. It’s Paul Walsh from the Tribune asking us if we have any comment to the Minnesota Board of Dentistry temporarily suspending Tompach’s license. We are caught off guard and are unaware of any findings and wish to say nothing. Then the myriad of phone calls and media overwhelms us. Trying to process this information is more than we can grasp.

With the MN Board of Dentistry making the allegations about Tompach, “failed to provide appropriate oral surgery care, failed to appropriately manage a medical emergency and enabled dental personnel to perform tasks which exceeded their legal scope of practice”, it forced us to hire legal counsel sooner than later. This was a hard decision because our emotions were still so raw, yet it was an easy one once we knew that we had to be Sydney’s voice. She died in the hands of someone we had trusted. We were angry. We never gave up on her in the hospital and we weren’t about to give up fighting for her now.

The Internet can become your friend and I’ve had a lot of time to do some research. One of the things I Googled was the Hippocratic oath. A very short summary of the Hippocratic Oath can be described as, “First, do no harm.” The oath functions as a promise made by physicians to maintain high ethical standards in their practice of medicine.

We learned so much between March of 2016 and October 2017. Most of it is too heartbreaking to share because, as they say, “you can’t make this shit up.”

But…I will share some. Tompach did not take Sydney’s vitals before her surgery. He did not monitor her properly. He ignored her lips turning blue and continued on with removing her teeth. He did not respond to the medical emergency that was happening, nor did he respond in a timely manner. He wasn’t prepared. His crash cart was expired and some of the medications were expired. He left Sydney ALONE and waited in the hallway for the paramedics to arrive. This is like a captain jumping ship before his passengers. He had equipment that he was required to use but didn’t because he claims he didn’t know how to use it. It was a machine that required a $12 piece that would alert the first sign of a patient not breathing. This could have saved Sydney’s life. I would have gladly paid for this piece of equipment. He seemed to have cut so many corners…to put more money in his pocket? Because he felt the corners he cut, he’d always gotten away with, so why change? We’ll never know the specific motives. But it was all at the expense of a life…Sydney’s life…someone he personally knew.

Our family lives our life being honest; being respectful; being the best persons we can be; living by the law of God. We’ve lived our lives treating others as we would want to be treated and that’s what we instilled in Sydney and Jack. We are by no means perfect and we sin everyday, but we know that when we sin, we don’t want continue to make the same mistakes. We change our behavior. We have many mottos in our family that we live by and that we all signed…even Sydney. One is: Ask yourself – Common Sense or Non Sense? Another is: Will it cause permanent damage? Don’t do it!

I can’t help but think of the word self-centered. Did he become so consumed with his own needs and interests before his patients? The number of children’s lives he put at stake before and after Sydney’s surgery by not doing all these things is so appalling. He played Russian Roulette with every patient he had, before and after, and Sydney took the loaded bullet. Again, this was someone we knew…someone that we trusted…someone that trusted Sydney to take care of his children. Would he have treated his children the same way? Would he have just given up on CPR and left them alone? I know Sydney never would have told his children to go play in a busy street but that’s exactly what he did.

He posted an absolute appalling picture of he and his staff doing emergency training in July of 2016 on his Facebook page, SMILING. I wonder where that training was in June of 2015…and before! I wonder where the Minnesota State Dental Board was? According to their website, “The mission of the Minnesota Board of Dentistry is to promote and protect public health and safety; and ensure that every licensed dental professional practicing in the state meets the requirements for safe, competent and ethical practice.” Was there nothing in place to check his office and every other Dental office to be sure their equipment is up to date, their medicines are up to date, their training is up to date and they have appropriately licensed staff?  Where is the ethics in all of this?

Another blow to us came in January of 2017. Tompach and his attorney were blaming us for his business closing down, that he’s had so many expenses to satisfy the (allegations) against him from the Dental Board like… emergency training. I wondered if he knew how much money it takes to bury a loved one. The last straw was when he and his attorney continued to say he was the victim in all of this. Really? He still walks around everyday, has a spouse, his children AND a job and I guess, a BMW. Our daughter will never have any of those thanks to him. He took the rest of her earthly life away from her, from us, from her brother, her family and her friends. Yes, I agree. He is a victim. But he is a victim of his own unethical behavior.

We are thankful we can put him and this lawsuit behind us and really begin to heal. It’s been hard to be silent for so long.  It feels great to be able to give Sydney a voice. She CAN Rest In Peace now. We told her we’d never give up on her and we didn’t.  Sydney’s death was clearly preventable.

John 8:32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”