J.R. Storment, a tech mogul, and his wife, Jessica Brandes, faced an unimaginable loss last month when their son, Wiley, 8, died unexpectedly in his sleep.
Storment and Brandes shared the emotional details about that day in essays posted on LinkedIn. Both Storment and Brandes noted in their pieces (his, hers) that they regretted working so much and not making more time for family.
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Power Couple J.R. Storment and Jessica Brandes Pen Emotional Essays After Death of 8-Year-Old Son Wiley
“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,” Storment says in his essay. “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.”
In her essay, Brandes, a naturopathic doctor, wrote, “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 parents and have any capacity to spend more time with your kids, do.”
Storment shared that he started his financial analysis company, Cloudability, the same month his twin sons were born. His hard work and dedication to the company resulted in it being acquired three months ago. However, Storment shared with employees that he had not taken more than a week off at a time off since his sons were born.
Brandes found her son’s body in the morning and called Storment with the heartbreaking news. He wrote that, “the next thing I know I’m sprinting out the front door of the office with my car keys in hand, running ferociously across the street.”
When Brandes and Storment came together at home, they took time to be with Wiley after the medics completed their investigation.
“Our time was limited. It was not the way a parent should have to see their child, but it was all we had,” Brandes wrote. “We held his hand and fixed his hair and kissed his head until our time ran out.”
Wiley had been diagnosed with a mild form of epilepsy called Benign Rolandic Epilepsy. It’s believed he died from Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy (SUDEP).
“SUDEP is generally seen to be unpredictable, unpreventable, and irreversible once it starts,” Storment explained. “It can be tied to a seizure but many times the brain just shuts down. Statistically, it was highly unlikely to hit our son: 1 out of 4,500 children with epilepsy are affected. Sometimes you end up the statistic.”
As the family heals from the terrible loss, they are focused on spending more time together as a family. “Out of the ashes have come many new and restored connections,” Storment wrote. “And I hope from this tragedy you consider how you prioritize your own time.”
“From now on, if you email or text me and my reply takes longer than expected, know that I am with the people I love sharing my time, creating my new identify and I encourage you to do the same,” said Brandes.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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