The heartbroken parents of an 8-year-old boy who died in his sleep have made an appeal on social media for others to spend more time with their kids.
In a social media post, J.R. Storment, the father of twins, wrote, “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 and his wife, Jessica Brandes, a naturopathic doctor, urged other parents to make family time a priority. One of their twin boys passed away suddenly in his sleep in Oregon last month.
“I’m guessing you have 1:1 meetings on the books with a lot of people you work with,” he wrote.
“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.”
He explained that Wiley, 8, was diagnosed with a “mild form of epilepsy” called benign rolandic epilepsy. It is commonly found in boys between the ages of 8 and 13 and mostly resolves itself by the time they become teenagers.
Wiley’s parents believe he passed away from sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
The boy’s mother first became worried when she realized he seemed to be sleeping in longer than usual.
Brandes then noticed Wiley didn’t respond when his brother, Oliver, was using his iPad beside him—but thought he still could have been sleeping.
However, when she looked at her son closely, she made a horrific discovery.
“He was under a blanket, and his feet appeared mottled,” she said in an online post.
Brandes believed he had died at least eight hours before because of the deep purple color of his legs.
“That was the moment. The moment I knew what was coming next,” she wrote. “My eyes tracked up his legs as I pulled the blanket back, and I traced the deep purple color of lividity.”
A medical examiner later confirmed that Wiley had been dead for between eight to 10 hours, passing away early in the night, Storment said.
“There was no emergency, no opportunity for intervention where I could have changed the outcome,” the Brandes wrote.
Wiley’s heartbroken mother described him as having “the most gorgeous blue eyes; [he] was tall with huge feet and seemed to be outgrowing everything within 2 weeks. He was mature and understood complex world concepts like religions and different forms of politics.”
At just eight years old, Wiley was a boy with big dreams and had told his parents who he wanted to marry and that he dreamed of starting a business.
His parents now urge others to put family first because “when it ends, there’s just photos and leftover things and time is no longer available to you.”
Storment added that time is “priceless” and should not be wasted.
“Take your vacation days and sabbaticals and go be with them … I’ve learned to stop waiting to do the things the kids ask for.”
The incident has since changed the way they spend time with Wiley’s twin brother, Oliver.
“While I sat writing this post, my living son, Oliver, came in to ask for screen time,” Storment wrote. “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. Small things matter. One silver lining from this tragedy is the improving relationship I have with him.”