The worst thing any parent can go through in their life is to lose a child. Unfortunately for J.R. Storment and his wife Jessica Brandes, that’s an experience they’re all too familiar with now, as their son died in August 2019. But following his passing, the dad cautioned other parents out there via an online post.
Residents of Portland, Oregon, Storment and Brandes were the proud parents of twin sons named Wiley and Oliver. The boys’ father ran a company named Cloudability, while their mom plies her trade as a doctor. And prior to that tragic day in the summer, the family had enjoyed plenty of time together.
Indeed, Brandes and Storment traveled to a number of different countries with their children, visiting the likes of Fiji and Greece. In addition to that, the latter’s work also took them to Hawaii and London, England as well. Sadly, though, everything changed just a couple of months after they arrived back in Portland.
Storment received the news of Wiley’s untimely passing during a meeting at work, with Brandes informing him over the phone. From there, the heartbroken parents went on to write about what happened a few weeks later, sharing their individual posts on LinkedIn. However, the dad’s words came with an important message.
For many of those who’ve not had the experience, the prospect of becoming a parent one day is incredibly exciting; it’s generally described as the most rewarding job you can have. Equally, you also take on countless responsibilities once you welcome a child into your life. But that’s not all, though.
With an extra mouth to feed, finances can be put to the test as well. As a result of that, many parents across the world have to work hard at their respective jobs to support their families. Storment and Brandes were no different in that regard, with the pair holding down important roles.
Brandes enrolled at New York University back in 2002, before earning her degree around four years later. After that, she became a student at Portland State University in 2009, where she pursued her second diploma. Then, the future doctor took on an intern position at the National College of Natural Medicine the following year.
During that period, Brandes earned some important experience outside of the college too, working in a couple of different practices, including a residency from 2013. And by the middle of 2015 all her intern work was completed, which led to even more opportunities. Now, the mom works at the Infuse Health clinic in Portland.
As for Storment, he’s worked across several different positions over the last two decades. To begin with, the dad took on the role of a web developer back in 1997 at the W.M. Keck Observatory. For the next two years, he operated out of Kamuela, Hawaii, before another opportunity came around.
At that point, Storment was named as the lead web developer at Mystic Mule Marketing. He went on to hold that position until 2005, leaving the company that June. However, just a few months prior to his departure, the Portland resident took a significant step in his career, as he started his own business.
Storment founded a company named Think Big, Inc. back in January 2005, running the business for around three-and-a-half years. From there, he took on a couple of different roles in 2008 ahead of his next big move. For you see, in the fall of 2009 Brandes’ husband started another firm called Dovie.
But while Storment’s association with Dovie came to an end at the start of 2011, his business exploits didn’t end there. In fact, the father started his third company that March, naming it Cloudability. And unlike the other two firms, he’s still involved with this one today, as he runs Cloudability’s FinOps Foundation.
Away from work, Storment and Brandes looked after their two young sons Oliver and Wiley. The family, who had lived in Portland previously, finally returned to the city in June 2019 following a spell overseas. Due to the former’s job, they’d spent around two years in London before coming back.
Tragically, though, Storment and Brandes’ lives were turned upside down in August following the sudden passing of Wiley. At the time of his death, the youngster was just eight years old. Off the back of that, his devastated parents both wrote up lengthy posts on LinkedIn over the next few weeks, detailing their feelings.
Brandes shared her post first at the back-end of August, titling it All That Remains. The parent wrote, “I am a mother to eight year old twin boys, Oliver and Wiley. I am bound to this identity the same as I am wife, doctor, daughter, female. Things that are unchangeable in my mind. Our son, Wiley, recently died.”
Following that introduction, Brandes touched upon her state of mind during that period. Unsurprisingly, both she and Storment were in a great deal of emotional pain, but the doctor made an intriguing point. They felt that the best way to deal with it was by sharing Wiley’s tale with the world.
Brandes continued, “In general, [Wiley] was happy and healthy and had been to his pediatrician, eye doctor and dentist all within one month of his death. He was smart, artistic, ambitious and funny, an incredible dancer [with] excellent taste in music and movies. He had the most gorgeous blue eyes.”
Brandes’ heartfelt words about Wiley didn’t conclude there. She wrote, “He was mature and understood complex world concepts, like religions and different forms of politics. He had been to ten countries and had lived in London for 18 months of his life. He had driven a car and kissed girls and fell in love with one.”
At that point, Brandes then focused her attention on Wiley’s medical status, revealing that he had suffered a “tonic-clonic seizure” in 2018. The youngster had undergone an EEG after his fit, with the results providing some answers to his parents. As it turned out, the young man had a condition known as Rolandic Epilepsy.
“This specific form of nocturnal epilepsy is a ‘childhood’ form and ‘benign,’” Brandes explained. “We consulted with two neurologists in the U.S. and in the U.K.. These highly trained physicians told us [Wiley would] suffer no cognitive deficits, that he would outgrow his condition and that his prognosis was incredibly good.”
Now that Brandes and Storment knew what they were dealing with, they informed Wiley of what he had, while also sharing it with a few other people. But sadly for the parents, nothing could prepare them for what happened in August 2019. The day in question started quite normally, with the eight-year-old “sleeping in” alongside his brother.
However, Brandes became concerned when Wiley showed no signs of leaving his bed. The mom wrote, “He was under a blanket and his feet appeared mottled. That was the moment. The moment I knew what was coming next. My eyes tracked up his legs as I pulled the blanket back, and I traced the deep purple color of lividity.”
The bereaved mom explained, “This extreme color change indicated to me [that] my son had been dead for at least eight hours. I felt for a pulse and somehow felt surprised by the cold skin I touched. There was no emergency, no opportunity for intervention where I could have changed the outcome.”
Once Brandes had got her head around the situation, she then contacted her husband at his office to deliver the bad news. Storment went on to detail what transpired next from his perspective, sharing his post on LinkedIn in September 2019. The heartbroken dad titled his message It’s Later Than You Think.
After a short introduction, Storment looked back on that fateful day in the summer. He wrote, “When I got the call, I was sitting in a conference room with 12 people at our Portland office talking about PTO policies. My wife and I have an agreement that when one of us calls, the other answers.”
Storment continued, “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?’ [Brandes’] reply was icy and immediate. ‘J.R., Wiley is dead.’” Following a few short moments of sheer disbelief, the business owner got a ride back to his house.
Given what had happened at the family home, Storment was greeted by various emergency services when he arrived back. The father recalled, “I sprinted through our open front door and ran straight towards the bedroom that the boys share. One of a half-dozen police officers there stepped in front of me blocking the way. When a child dies suddenly, it becomes a potential crime scene.”
Storment and Brandes were eventually let into Wiley’s bedroom a few hours later, where they stayed for a short period. Inevitably, though, the time soon came when their son’s body needed to be moved from the house. With that, the parents said their goodbyes as the medical examiner took him away.
Later in his post, Storment reflected on Wiley’s ambitions, noting that he was “obsessed” with the idea of founding a company. But that’s not all, as the youngster also planned to get hitched when he was older. Yet while the good times continued to linger in the memory, one thought didn’t escape his dad’s mind.
Indeed, Storment couldn’t help but look back on that last night with Wiley. Regardless of what eventually transpired, the eight-year-old was apparently in very good spirits at that time, entertaining guests at their house. However, the pair went on to have a minor disagreement, which left the boy in tears.
Storment recalled, “It’s one of the last interactions we had and I’ve beaten myself up for it a dozen times. I can still see the tears rolling down his face. I had a very sweet interaction with Wiley at bedtime and apologized for making him cry. We had a good snuggle and I went to bed myself.”
The following morning, Storment revealed that he left for work without seeing Oliver and Wiley, ahead of the heartbreaking news later that day. Meanwhile, the Cloudability founder then explained what caused his son’s untimely death. In the end, it was thought to be a case of Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy, better known as SUDEP.
Storment wrote, “SUDEP is generally seen to be unpredictable, unpreventable and irreversible once it starts. It can be tied to a seizure, but many times the brain just shuts down. Statistically, it was highly unlikely to hit our son. One out of 4,500 children with epilepsy are affected. Sometimes you end up the statistic.”
With that in mind, Storment offered some important words of advice to any other parents reading his LinkedIn post. He said, “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.” That wasn’t all, though.
In addition to that, Storment added, “I’m guessing you have 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.”
From there, Storment switched his focus to Oliver, who was now without his twin brother. But since Wiley’s passing, the relationship between the father and his other son has apparently changed for the better. For instance, the former recalled an encounter they shared as he was compiling his lengthy post.
“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,” Storment continued. “One silver lining from this tragedy is the improving relationship I have with [Oliver].” Off the back of that admission, the entrepreneur then concluded his emotional post with one final message. Much like Brandes had mentioned previously, he noted how vital it was to share Wiley’s story.
Storment finished, “Out of these ashes have come many new and restored connections. Thank you for being one of mine. And I hope from this tragedy you consider how you prioritize your own time.” And since being published on LinkedIn, the two posts appear to have resonated with the website’s users.
Brandes’ long post has earned over 5,200 likes from online users, while also generating in excess of 550 comments. As for Storment, his heartfelt words surpassed even those numbers. Indeed, the Portland resident’s message has clocked up just under 45,000 likes on LinkedIn, alongside more than 4,200 comments.