J.R. Storment was at work in a meeting when he got a phone call from his wife Jessica to say his son Wiley, eight, had died in his sleep.
'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,' explains J.R. in a heartwrenching letter on LinkedIn.
J.R. arrived home to find his house swarming with police and had to wait 2.5 hours before he could see his son's body for himself.
'He lay in his bed, covers neatly on, looking peacefully asleep. I put my hand on the glass and lost it,' explains J.R.
'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.'
His son Wiley had a mild form of epilepsy called Benign Rolandic Epilepsy that is most common in boys between 8-13. The condition typically resolves on its own by the teenage years.
Riley died of Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy (SUDEP), which is incredibly rare and only affects 1 in 4500 children with epilepsy.
He was dead for 8-10 hours before he was discovered by J.R's wife and police had to cordon off the area in case it was found to be a crime scene.
His son's sudden death has caused J.R. to reflect on the past eight years of his life since he had his twins sons Riley and Oliver and started a successful business Cloudability in the same month. In the past eight years he hasn't taken anything more than one continuous week off.
The morning before Riley died, J.R. admits he didn't even go in to check on him.
'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,' says J.R.
The dad now bitterly regrets not spending more time with his son and advises other 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. 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,' urges J.R.
It's been three weeks since Riley died and J.R. hasn't returned to work. He did think about not going back but says he evetually will, but with a new mindset.
'While I sat writing this post, my living son, Oliver, came in to ask for screen time. Instead of saying the usual ‘no’, I stopped writing and asked if I could play with him. He was happily surprised by my answer and we connected in a way I would have formerly missed out on,' says J.R.