"When it ends, there’s just photos and left over things and time is no longer available to you," the heartbroken mother also shared.
JR Storment was in a conference room, surrounded by 12 people when he received a call from his wife, uttering words no parent ever want to hear about their child, "Wiley is dead."
The father of two had just told his colleagues in the room that he'd only taken "a contiguous week off" in the past eight years. And now, heartbroken by the death of his 8-year-old twin boy, he regrets all the moments he chose something else over spending time with his son.
"...He died in his bed overnight," the father wrote on LinkedIn, now wishing that he had gone in to check on his twin boys before leaving to work. He added, "Around 5:40am, the next morning I woke up for a series of back to back meetings. I did a Peloton ride, took an analyst call from my home office, one with a colleague on the drive to work, then the rest at the office. None seem that important now. I left that morning without saying goodbye or checking on the boys."
His wife, Dr. Jessica Brandes, believed that Wiley was tired from all the summer fun he'd been having and thought he was just sleeping in. But eventually, she got suspicious. She wrote, "He was under a blanket and his feet appeared mottled. That was the moment. The moment I knew what was coming next." She saw his body and the "extreme color change indicated to me my son had been dead for at least 8 hours," she said.
Even though there was so much that Wiley had done over the eight years of his life, the grieving father still wishes for more time with his son, gone too soon. He said, "A lot of the things you are likely spending your time on you’ll regret once you no longer have the time."
Months before their little boy's death, Wiley was diagnosed with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy and doctors told the parents that there was "little to be concerned about". What took away their little boy's life was Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy (SUDEP) which is "generally seen to be unpredictable, unpreventable, and irreversible once it starts," Storment explained.
Now, he's urging people not to miss out on those special experiences when there's still time. "Many have asked what they can do to help. Hug your kids. Don’t work too late," Storment wrote. "...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."
His wife's heart-wrenching words also included, "If we’ve learned anything at all, it’s that life is fragile and time really can be so cruelly short. We wish a lot of things were different, but mostly we wish we’d had more time. If you are a parent and have any capacity to spend more time with your kids, do."
The grieving couple words remind people everywhere that those few extra moments with a loved one is priceless, and phone calls or texts can wait.
"When it ends, there’s just photos and leftover things and time is no longer available to you. It is priceless and should not be squandered," the mother went on to say. "Take your vacation days and sabbaticals and go be with them. You will not regret the emails you forgot to send."
From having two 8-year-old boys in the house to now having one, the family is trying its best to cope with their loss. While the parents lost their son, Wiley's twin brother, Oliver, also lost the one person he's had a relationship with even before his birth.
Storment wrote, "Our family has gone from having two units of two (the parents and the twins) to now being a triangle of three. 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.'"