The parents of an 8-year-old boy who suddenly died in his sleep are now urging parents to spend more time with their kids.
J.R. Storment and his wife, Jessica Bandes, a naturopathic doctor, lost one of their twin boys, Wiley, while he slept in his Oregon bed in last month. In two separate essays, they talked about the importance of not missing out of things that matter, especially time with their family.
“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,” Storment wrote on LinkedIn. “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.”
Wiley had been diagnosed with a mild form of epilepsy called benign rolandic epilepsy last year, but doctors said it usually resolves itself by adulthood. His parents believe he died from sudden unexplained death of epilepsy.
Bandes said she found Wiley in bed that morning lying next to Oliver, who was unsuspecting, and quickly called her husband at work to let him know that Wiley had died before calling 911.
“I knew I had approximately 4 minutes to explain to Oliver that his best friend had died and 15 people were about to swarm our home. I asked him to pick a location where he would feel safe. Then, sirens,” Bandes wrote.
The couple got to spend a half an hour with their son after he passed before he was taken away.
Bandes described Wiley as having the “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.”
His parents said he had dreams of starting a business and getting married, and even already knew the girl he wanted to walk down the aisle with. The parents realize now how short life can be.
“We wish a lot of things were different, but mostly we wish we’d had more time,” Bandes wrote. “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. Take your vacation days and sabbaticals and go be with them.”
Storment said the experience has changed how he parents Oliver.
“While I sat writing this post, my living son, Oliver, came in to ask for screen time,” he 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.”