Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Sad Reality


Our beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, Benjamin Terry Gallegos, 62, died Monday, April 8, 2013, after a year long battle with cancer.
He was born December 20, 1950 in Brigham City, Utah, a son of Benjamin and Mae Maxine Cottle Gallegos.
He married DeNae Stone in 1971, they have three children: Jared, Sunny, and Carlie. They were later divorced.
He married Stephanie Mund in 2002, they have two children: Chloe and Abbey. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Brigham City LDS Temple.
He was raised and educated in Brigham City, Utah, graduating from Box Elder High School in 1969. He enjoyed all sports especially football. He served in the National Guard for eight years. He was very patriotic and loved his country.
He spent most of his life working construction. He worked for Whitaker Construction for many years before starting his own company, BT Gallegos Construction in 1985. He loved his company and his employees many of which have been life long friends.
His hobby was his man-shed and anything he could fit or park in it. He loved his 66 Chevelle, riding his Harley, and watching high school football. He loved being outdoors whether working or playing.
He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He had a strong testimony of the gospel and loved the Book of Mormon.
Surviving are his wife, Stephanie of Willard; one son and four daughters: B. Jared (Megan) Gallegos, Fielding, UT; Sunny (Jim) Keller, Perry, UT; Carlie Gallegos, Perry, UT; Chloe Gallegos and Abbey Gallegos, Willard, UT; two step children William (Amoryn) Mund, Ogden, UT; Lauren (Justin)Watkins, Brigham City, UT; nine grandchildren. His wife, children, and grandchildren were his life and love.
Ben is also survived by two sisters and one brother Tina (Hank) Evenhuis, Marriott, UT; Patti (Robert) Young, Honeyville, UT; Mike (Tami) Martinez, Corinne, UT; and many Uncles, Aunts, and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Amber Jean Gallegos.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at the Willard 4th Ward Chapel, 80 N. 100 W., Willard, UT.
Friends may call on Friday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Myers Mortuary, 205 S. 100 E., Brigham City, UT and Saturday from 9:45 to 10:40 a.m. at the Willard Chapel.
Interment will be in Willard Cemetery.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Truly Bittersweet Experience

My wedding day 2009 - The Germs,  my Mom, Ben, sisters, and brother

For over a year my step-dad,  my wonderful friend, has been battling cancer. I remember listening to the voicemail my mom left, “Hey Dooney, call me back.” I could hear in her voice that she was upset. It was Valentine’s Day and I had found out I was pregnant just two days before. When my mom told me about the diagnosis I was really upset, Ben had always been so healthy except for the last few months. That night I went to bed thinking about the yin and yang of life and death; in the span of two days I had learned a lesson of the joyful promise of new life and the bitter realization of our mortality. We remained hopeful of the outcome as they learned about the HIPEC treatment and the chance to have a few more years with such a wonderful man. We fasted and prayed for a miracle, the miracle with the outcome we wanted. We said goodbye at the Fourth of July celebration as they left for their journey to Pennsylvania to receive this radical treatment. We watched as they walked away together, toward an uncertain future, with many mixed emotions. We saw the hand of the lord protecting them and the rest of family during that month that they were gone (and the months since). Tender mercies manifested with flight lay overs being shortened, upgrades in flights, and inspired and qualified doctors.
 The 4th of July a few minutes before they left  for Pennsylvania 

We prayed for his recovery, knowing it would be a long road to travel down. We saw him as he began to improve and our hope in the future began to brighten even more. He could walk a little further each day, he began lifting light weights to start building up his strength, he began to gain a little weight, and he even felt well enough to drive the car again.

Taking the kiddos and grand-kiddos for a "wheeler ride"
Mom and Ben in Hawaii
I wish I could say that his progress continued but that is not case. The realization that my hoped for outcome, his full restoration of health, was not going to happen came to my mind gradually. 
 Although, I didn't want to believe these thoughts. 
Whispering's and promptings would come to my heart telling me, “Give your sister an extra hug,”  “Send that funny picture of Peanut to you mom she needs a smile,”  “ Accept the job offer from your Aunt you need the flexibility ” and other such promptings.  Recently, as I babysat my littlest sister, I received several promptings saying, “Be extra loving to Mae she is going to need it in the upcoming days.” My nightly prayers gradually shifted from asking for “my will be done” to prayers of “thy will be done.”  My prayers also started asking -even begging - that my mom, Ben, and my two sisters would be able to make it to the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity.  I am grateful to say that with many prayers, tender mercies, and outright miracles that blessed and highly emotional day came.  April 3, 2012 Ben, My mom, and my sisters became an eternal family. While in the temple I thought again of the Yin and Yang of the sorrow of death and the joyful promise of new life. The difference this time was that I reminded of the joyful promise of eternal life through our saviors atonement. I was reminded of the promise of the resurrection and the eternal covenants of the temple.  I was taught that the veil that separates us from our loved ones is so very thin. They watch over us and rejoice in our triumphs and good choices. Those loved ones, our angels, also come to strengthen and support us when our heads hang low. This was never as apparent as to me as during that bittersweet sealing in the temple when the promise of eternity became ever more real. The host of family, seen and unseen, created a powerful spirit felt in that beautiful house of God that was truly overwhelming. I learned the true meaning of bittersweet and am so grateful to know that bitter only lasts for a small moment and through the atonement the sweet will be eternal.  

Ben never smiled in pictures if he new they were being taken

Dancing to the Beatles "In my Life" at my wedding

We are now trying to make the most of the short time we have left with Ben.

Trials and the Atonement

***excerpts from a talk I gave a few weeks ago****

My most recent and favorite calling has been becoming a parent.  Since becoming a parent my understanding of heavenly fathers plan has greatly increased. Now I often wonder how heavenly father feels when he sees his children struggle, make bad decisions, experience pain, when they overcome a great personal challenge, or when they become a loving parent.  I also have gained more understanding as to why he allows us to face challenges.
When Sienna was two weeks old she had to have the PKU screening done. This involved Justin holding our new little baby while the nurse made a small cut on her foot and collected several samples of blood. Sienna with her limited understanding and I being in my postpartum state were both emotional wrecks. Every fiber of my body wanted to grab her and protect her from this pain. It also included a strong desire to smack the nurse for hurting my baby. So why did I not do that? It was because I understood the importance of the PKU test and its vital role in protecting Sienna. The pain she experienced from the test is nothing compared to the pain and heartache she would face if Phenylketonuria went undiagnosed.  These few moments of pain were in essence protecting her from suffering greater pain in the future.
Likewise, Heavenly father has allowed us to face some challenges now in order to prevent us from facing greater trials later. The word of wisdom may be difficult to follow especially, when your peer group (at any age) is constantly tempting and tormenting you for following it, but it is there to protect us. It protects us from the greater trails, pain, and heartache that can be caused by substance abuse. The other second type of trial involves strength.
Until recently Sienna hated tummy time. She would scream bloody murder entire time. Why did I continue to subject her to this if it made her upset and my ears ring in consequence? I did it because she needed tummy time to build the strength and coordination required to hold her head up, crawl, and eventually walk. She needs this to build up her strength so she can progress, grow, and to experience greater happiness.
There are times when heavenly father gives us our “spiritual tummy time” to help us build our spiritual strength and coordination required to return to him. As a result we will eventually experience incomprehensible joy and happiness.
Like any parent would do, when sienna experiences the pain I hold and kiss her, sometimes even shed tears with her. When she is doing tummy time I lay on the ground next to her trying to make to the experience more bearable for her, maybe even enjoyable.  Heavenly father does not leave us leave us comfortless. He provided us with a perfect savior to comfort and strengthen us.
  Deuteronomy 4: 30 and 31 state:
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the lord they god, and shalt be obedient unto his voice.
(For the lord thy God is a merciful god;) he will not forsake thee, nor destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers.
In a quote by Elder Bednar he states:
The savior has suffered not just for our iniquities but also for the inequality, the unfairness, the pain, the anguish, and the emotional distresses that so frequently beset us. There is no physical pain, no anguish of the soul, no suffering of the spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the savior did not experience first. You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, “No one understands. No one knows.” No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, he has perfect empathy and can extend to us his arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach out, touch, succor,- literally run to us-and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying upon only our own power.”
Sienna can choose to accept the love and comfort I provide or reject it. We similarly can choose to accept, ignore, or reject the saviors’ perfect love, comfort, and strength.
While going through trials we understandably think: “why me?” “Why my dad? He is so kind and understanding. Why does he have to experience so much pain?” With our limited view we don’t fully understand the “why’s.” Many times during our trials we forget about the strengthening and enabling power of the savior. Often we pray to have the trial to be removed instead of asking for the strength to endure and learn from it or even the strength to change it ourselves.
Elder Bednar said,
“As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for the strength to change our circumstances rather than praying to have our circumstances to be changed. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted up.”   
Mosiah 3:19 says,
“and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and Becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
Even though trials may rage against us, the Saviors’ all-encompassing atonement will strengthen and enable us to overcome and change it. The atonement will remind us that these trails will be but a small ripple in the grand view of the ocean of eternal life.
In the words of our savior in John 16:33
“These things I have spoken unto you, that ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”
If we turn to our savior we too shall overcome. Faith through affliction is always pointed with hope toward the future.
I know the savior will comfort, sustain, and strengthen us during times of trial if we allow him too.