People say we never fully appreciate what we have until we’ve lost it. This frequently told saying applies even in our relationships with people, particularly our family. One dad recently learned this lesson too late when his young son died in his sleep and he had to learn about it while he was in a conference meeting at work.
In a heartbreaking post on LinkedIn, the father, one J. R. Storment, related what has to be every loving parent’s nightmare: losing a precious child, especially when it’s too soon. J. R. Storment was husband to Jessica Brandes, and together they raised their two boys named Wiley and Oliver. The former, Wiley, had been previously diagnosed with benign rolandic epilepsy (BRE), a usually mild form of epilepsy that often occurs in young boys between the ages of 8 and 13. They didn’t think his medical situation was that serious because aside from the fact that it was considered a benign condition, the doctors advised them that it would usually be resolved by the teenage years. They had only ever seen Wiley suffer a seizure from his condition once, and it had been some time ago. All the medical experts they talked to advised them that the best thing to do would be to let the condition run its cocourse.
That was why they had the shock of their lives when Jessica woke up one day and found their beloved Wiley had died in his bed. He was cold to the touch, and Jessica, being a physician herself, was able to deduce that he had already been dead for at least 8–10 hours. She then had no choice but to call her husband, J. R., who was already at his work.
J. R. himself relates the story of how he found out:
“When I got the call I was sitting in a conference room with 12 people at our Portland office talking about PTO policies. Minutes earlier, I had admitted to the group that in the last 8 years I’d not taken more than a contiguous week off. My wife and I have an agreement that when one of us calls, the other answers. So when the phone rang I stood up and walked to the conference room door immediately. I was still walking through the door when I answered with ‘Hey, what’s up?’ Her reply was icy and immediate: ‘J. R., Wiley is dead.’”
J. R. couldn’t believe it and immediately rushed home. The truth of the tragedy only fully sank in when he held his precious Wiley in his arms.
In his LinkedIn post, J. R. revealed his regrets that he wasn’t able to spend as much time with Wiley as much as he wanted to because of his work and other factors that now seem unimportant. He was heartbroken over the fact that his little Wiley would never have the chance to grow up, choose a profession, and get married—which were all things that his little boy had told him he wanted to do.
J. R. Storment ended his post by advising parents like him to treasure the time they have with their kids because life is short and none of us know what’s going to happen:
“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.”
These are words that all of us would do well to take to heart.
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