Parents of 8-year-old Wiley, J.R. Storment and Jessica Brandes have penned emotional letters encouraging career-driven parents to spend more time with their kids.
Storment and Brandes—he a tech mogul and she a naturopathic doctor—lost one of their twin sons, Wiley, suddenly this August from Rolandic Epilepsy. This form of epilepsy is most common in boys between 8-13.
Shortly after Wiley’s death, Storment and Brandes detailed the heartbreaking events of their son’s death in respective essays on their LinkedIn pages, “where the couple admitted that they regretted their work schedules and urged others not to miss out on precious time with their children,” People reports.
In his letter, Storment begins by retelling how the day his son died was just like any other day, “Eight years ago, during the same month, I had twin boys and co-founded Cloudability. About three months ago Cloudability was acquired. About three weeks ago we lost one of our boys.”
“When I got the call I was sitting in a conference room with 12 people at our Portland office talking about PTO policies. Minutes earlier, I had admitted to the group that in the last 8 years I’d not taken more than a contiguous week off.”
“My wife and I have an agreement that when one of us calls, the other answers. So when the phone rang I stood up and walked to the conference room door immediately.”
“I was still walking through the door when I answered with ‘Hey, what’s up?'”
“Her reply was icy and immediate: ‘J.R., Wiley is dead.'”
“‘What?’ I responded incredulously.”
“‘Wiley has died.s she reiterated.”
“’What?! No.’ I yelled out, ‘No!'”
The letter continues, sharing the heartwrenching details of that day and beyond. With Brandes adding the moments after discovering their unresponsive son in her own penned letter: “I found him later in the morning after I became suspicious that ‘sleeping in’ had lasted too long. Oliver had been playing on an iPad next to Wiley and I found it strange that Wiley had not woken up and started playing as well. He was under a blanket and his feet appeared mottled. That was the moment. The moment I knew what was coming next. My eyes tracked up his legs as I pulled the blanket back and I traced the deep purple color of lividity. This extreme color change indicated to me my son had been dead for at least 8 hours.”
We encourage you to read both of their emotional letters and allow their lives and loss to speak deep into your heart as you recognize that this once family of 4, has very real and harrowing adjustments before them: “Our family has gone from having two units of two (the parents and the twins) to now being a triangle of three,” Storment writes.
“That’s a big adjustment for a family that has always been four. Oliver’s brilliant reply when we discussed the shape of our new family: ‘But Papa, the triangle is the strongest shape.’ By some sad and beautiful irony, Oliver has met three sets of 8-year-old twins in our new neighborhood since Wiley passed.”
Finishing his letter, Storment writes, “Many have asked what they can do to help. Hug your kids. Don’t work too late. A lot of the things you are likely spending your time on you’ll regret once you no longer have the time. I’m guessing you have 1:1 meetings on the books with a lot of people you work with. Do you have them regularly scheduled with your kids? If there’s any lesson to take away from this, it’s to remind others (and myself) not to miss out on the things that matter.”
My hope is that we would all heed the wisdom of their request, loss and regret. Remembering that nothing in this world is guaranteed.