A father whose 8-year-old son passed away has urged other parents to learn from his mistake and prioritize family before jobs.
In a viral post on LinkedIn, tech-company founder J.R. Storment shared that one of his twin boys died suddenly in his sleep.
He admitted that his life had been consumed by work since he founded his company in 2011, the same year his children were born.
However, everything changed when Wiley passed away in his sleep after suffering a rare complication caused by childhood epilepsy.
His wife, Dr. Jessica Brandes, found their son cold in his bed as his brother lay nearby. Wiley had been playing with his friends hours before he died.
The death of their child was a reminder of how short life is. “A lot of the things you are likely spending your time on you’ll regret once you no longer have the time,” Storment expressed, adding he wished he could bring back the time.
“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.”
That painful day, Storment got up early for meetings. He was so focused on his working day that he didn’t say goodbye to his children. On the way to the office, he finished two work calls before his phone rang for the third time.
But this time, it was his wife on the other end. She said, “Wiley is dead.”
“That was the entire conversation. 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 and muttering ‘Oh f ***. Oh f ***. Oh f***,” he wrote.
12 minutes later, he arrived back at their home and found emergency services and armed officers filling the street where his children regularly played.
“They allowed me to go out to the deck facing the kids room to peer through the sliding glass window. He lay in his bed, covers neatly on, looking peacefully asleep. I put my hand on the glass and lost it,” Storment expressed.
“I laid down next to him in the bed that he loved, held his hand and kept repeating, “What happened, buddy? What happened?” We stayed next to him for maybe 30 minutes and stroked his hair before they returned with a gurney to take him away. I walked him out, holding his hand and his forehead through the body bag as he was wheeled down our driveway.
“Then all the cars drove away. The last one to leave was the black minivan with Wiley in it.”
Weeks since his son’s death, Storment hasn’t worked for a single minute.
“To be honest, I’ve considered not going back,” he wrote. “But I believe in the words of Kahlil Gibran who said, “Work is love made visible.” To me, that line is a testament to how much we gain, grow and offer through the work we do. But that work needs to have a balance that I have rarely lived.”
He added: “One of the countless difficult moments of this month was signing his death certificate. Seeing his name written on the top of it was hard. However, two fields further down the form crushed me.
“The first said: “Occupation: Never worked” and the next: “Marital Status: Never married”. He wanted so badly to do both of those things. I feel both fortunate and guilty to have had success in each.”
Storment said his work life will forever be his biggest regret as his family shall be his greatest achievement.
“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.
“If you are a parent and have any capacity to spend more time with your kids, do. When it ends, there’s just photos and left over things and time is no longer available to you. It is priceless and should not be squandered.”
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