Grieving dad urges parents to spend more time with their kids after losing his 8-year-old son
Every parent should prioritize genuine, quality time with their children. His post is heartbreaking.
Michael Dabu

“Time is gold”

In fact, time is more precious than gold. You can waste money and earn it back afterward or waste food and cook it again, but with time – it’s impossible.

That’s exactly what a couple realized after the sudden death of their 8-year-old son.

A picture of a perfect family.

J.R. Storment, a tech mogul, and his wife Jessica Brandes, a naturopathic doctor were blessed with twin boys, Wiley and Oliver. For Storment and Brandes, there’s nothing more fulfilling than giving everything to their kids and securing their future.

The family explored the world together and along each journey, they were able to collect happy and wonderful memories that none of them will ever forget. However, they came a little short of giving all their time to their kids.

As expected, they also need to fulfill their professional responsibilities at work which eats up a lot of their time. To provide their sons with all their needs, they need to compromise by spending lesser time with their twins and that’s what the couple ended up regretting the most.

Parents’ biggest fear.

Ask any parent and they’d probably tell you that losing their child is what they fear the most. Three years ago, this nightmare became a reality to Storment and Brandes when the latter woke up and discovered the cold and lifeless body of Wiley in his bed.

The sudden death of their beloved son brought them nothing but immeasurable pain. All of a sudden, Wiley was taken away from them, and right at that moment, they didn’t know how and when to start again.

But instead of focusing on their pain, the couple decided to write a heartfelt and detailed open letter where they both shared all their realizations and regrets from the heartbreaking experience of losing a child.

“He was smart, artistic, ambitious and funny, an incredible dancer, excellent taste in music and movies.” Brandes described Wiley in her open letter. “He had the most gorgeous blue eyes; was tall with huge feet and seemed to be outgrowing everything within 2 weeks.”

The mourning naturopathic doctor also shared that just a month before Wiley’s unexpected death, they went to her son’s pediatrician, dentist, and eye doctor, and all his check-up results turned out okay.

The night before that tragic day, her energetic son shared a meal with them before he went to bed tired yet happy. That’s why the next morning when Wiley didn’t get up early, Jessica thought that her son was just tired.

It was only when Oliver was playing beside his twin brother that Brandes felt that something was pretty odd that morning.

“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,” Jessica recalled. “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.”

The extreme color change in the boy’s body was a sign that he’d been gone for at least 8 hours. Wiley’s body was already cold, sadly, there was nothing she could’ve done to rescue her son.

When she called her husband to tell him about what happened to Wiley, Storment was at work but he also felt odd when his wife called him. According to Jessica, they never call each other unless it’s really about an important matter.

That’s when she told her husband, “J.R., Wiley is dead.”

Storment rushed home but it took 2.5 hours before he was able to see his son’s body.

What caused the poor boy’s untimely death?

“The only clue we have for explaining his death began 9 months ago… He had fallen out of the bed and was actively having a tonic-clonic seizure. To our knowledge, this was the first of its kind and certainly the first one we had ever witnessed. He recovered, as most people do from a seizure with no memory of the event whatsoever and we immediately visited his pediatrician who subsequently ordered an EEG.” Jessica explained in her open letter.

Wiley was diagnosed with Benign Rolandic Epilepsy, a mild and non-threatening form of epilepsy that’s commonly seen in boys from ages 8 to 13. In Wiley’s case, he only had one confirmed seizure attack.

Only 1 out of 4,500 children affected with epilepsy may experience SUDEP or Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy, unfortunately, that’s what happened to the couple’s 8-year-old son.

“We believe Wiley died of a phenomenon called SUDEP.” Jessica wrote. “If you think of brains as being the computers of the body, Wiley’s just turned off. No known trigger, no warning. It just shut down and without a brain, there is nothing.”

Realizations and regrets.

It’s true that you’d realize the true value of something or someone once it’s taken away from you, that’s what Jessica and J.R. felt. That’s why in his open letter, the mourning father urged parents to spend more time with their children.

“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,” he wrote. “…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.”

It’s been three years since he left, but surely, J.R., Jessica, and Oliver are still missing Wiley. Hopefully, the time will come when the wounds in their hearts finally find peace and complete healing.

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By Michael Dabu
Michael Dabu is a contributor at SBLY Media.