In an open letter on LinkedIn, which has so far garnered more than 26,000 likes and 2,700 comments, Storment explains that his son, Wiley, died while sleeping from complications from his mild epilepsy. He then blames himself for not spending enough time with his son and encourages other parents to take more time off work.
Storment begins by explaining that the day of her son’s death began like any other:
“Eight years ago, in the same month, I had twins and co-founded Cloudability. About three months ago, Cloudability was acquired. About three weeks ago, we lost the one of our boys. “
“When I got the call, I was sitting in a conference room with 12 people in our Portland office talking about PTO policies. A few minutes earlier, I had admitted to the group that in the past 8 years, I hadn’t taken more than a contiguous week turned off. “
That’s when Storment got a call from his distraught wife.
“My wife and I agreed that when one of us calls, the other answers. So when the phone rang, I stood up and immediately walked to the door to the conference room. “
“I was still walking through the door when I said ‘Hey, what’s up?'”
“His response was freezing and immediate: ‘JR, Wiley is dead.'”
“‘What?’ I replied incredulously. “
“‘Wiley is dead.’ she reiterated. “
“‘What no.’ I shouted: ‘No!’ “
“I’m so sorry, I have to call 911.”
Storment goes on to explain the chaos that followed.
“That was the whole conversation. Next thing I know is I run out the front door of the office with my car keys in hand, run fiercely down the street and mumble” oh F * * k. oh F ** k. Oh fuck.’ Halfway down the block, I realize I don’t have my parking lot opener. As I ran down the hall, I almost screamed “Someone is leading me!” Someone lead me! “Fortunately, a helpful coworker did.”
Storment returned home, but not yet knowing the cause of death, police were treating the house as a possible crime scene. The heartbroken father could not see his son for two and a half hours.
“When the medical examiner finally finished his work, we were allowed to enter the room. A strange calm came over me. What happened?'”
“We stood next to him for maybe 30 minutes and stroked his hair before they came back with a stretcher to take him out. I pulled him out, holding his hand and forehead through the body bag as he was driven down our driveway. Then all the cars left. The last to leave was the black van with Wiley in it. “
Storment goes on to explain his son’s dreams and aspirations, and the difficulty he had in signing his son’s death certificate.
“Wiley was obsessed with building a business. One day it was a smoothie stand, the next it would be a gallery, then a VR headset company, then a ‘coder’, then a shipbuilding company. In each of these scenarios, he was the boss. His brother (and sometimes we) were asked to work for – not with – him and each was assigned to tasks. In the gallery scenario, Wiley informed Oliver that he would take care of the cash register. “
“Around the age of 5, Wiley decided he was going to get married as an adult. At 6, he had identified the girl, holding her hand at recess on the first day of kindergarten. Over the next two years we moved from Portland to London. in Hawaii, he kept in touch with her by handwritten letter. Shortly before our return to Portland, the two agreed (by letter) to be married. She punched him and asked him. He accepted. Fortunately, he happened to see her twice after we returned to Portland in June. “
“One of the countless difficult times this month was signing her death certificate. Seeing her name written on it was difficult. However, two fields further down the form overwhelmed me. The first one read: ‘Occupation: never worked ‘and the following:’ Marital status: never married. ‘ He wanted to do both of these things so badly, I feel both lucky and guilty that I was successful in each of them.
Storment then blames himself for spending too much time at work. And while it seems like Wiley had an amazing life, Storment only wishes he could have done more with him.
“Over the past three weeks, I have found an endless stream of things that I regret. They tend to fall into two categories: things that I wish I had done differently and things that I am sad not to. see him do it. My wife is constantly reminding me of everything he’s done: Wiley has been to 10 countries, drove a car on a farm road in Hawaii, hiked Greece, snorkeled in Fiji, wore a costume at a fantastic British prep school every day for two years, got rescued from a shark on a jet ski, kissed several girls, got good enough at chess to beat me twice in a row, wrote short stories and drew comics obsessively. “
Storment hadn’t checked on the boys on the morning of the tragedy because he had to get up early for meetings, a decision he seems to regret.
“Around 5:40 am the next morning, I woke up for a series of back-to-back meetings. I took a peloton tour, took an analyst call from my home office, one with a colleague on the way. to go to work, then the rest to the office. None seem so important now. I left that morning without saying goodbye or checking on the boys.
Storment has a simple message for parents:
“Many have asked what they could do to help. Kiss your kids. Don’t work too late. You’ll regret a lot of things you probably spend your time on once you run out of time. I guess you will. have 1: 1 book meetings with a lot of people you work with. Have you regularly scheduled them with your children? If there is one lesson to be learned from this, it is to remind others (and to myself) not to miss out on the things that matter. “
“The big question is how do I get back to work in a way that won’t leave me with the regrets that I have now. To be honest, I considered not going back. But I believe in Kahlil Gibran’s words. who said, ‘Work is love made visible.’ For me, this line is a testament to all that we gain, grow and offer through the work we do. But this work must have a balance that I have rarely experienced. It is a balance that allows us to offer our gifts to the world but not to the detriment of oneself and one’s family. “
“While I was sitting writing this message, my living son Oliver came over asking for some screen time. Instead of saying the usual ‘no’, I stopped writing and asked if I could play with him. He was pleasantly surprised by my response. and we connected in ways that I would have missed before. The little things matter. One of the positives of this tragedy is the improvement of the relationship I have with him. ”
“Our family has gone from two units of two (parents and twins) to now a triangle of three. It’s a great fit for a family that has always been four. Oliver’s brilliant response when we discussed the shape of our new family: ‘But daddy, the triangle is the strongest shape.’ In a sad and beautiful irony, Oliver has met three pairs of 8 year old twins in our new neighborhood since Wiley passed away. “
“I have learned not to wait any longer to do what children ask. When we sold the business, I gave each of the boys a $ 100 bill. They decided to pool their money to buy a tent for camping. But we didn’t. I failed to do this until Wiley’s death. Another regret. So after the first round of family visits after his death, I took Jessica and Oliver to REI to get some gear and we quickly left town to camp near Mount St. Helens. “
“Somehow we got into the wilderness without enough money to cover camping costs and had a slight panic. Jessica then realized that Wiley’s $ 100 bill was still in his seat pocket. After all, he had to spend his money on camping. Collectively, the family said a big “Thank you, buddy” out loud to him. It was one of the many moments. bittersweet that we will live for the rest of our lives. Every happy moment brings with it sadness that it does not have the opportunity to experience. “
“One of Wiley’s happy times was listening to music and dancing. Damn, this kid could dance. He loved the Oregon Country Fair and the year before we left for London we listened to a band over there playing a version of ‘Enjoy yourself (It’s later than you think)’. The words hit me that day three years ago and painfully now: ”
“You work and work for years and years, you are always on the move
You never take a minute off, too busy making dough
Someday you say you’ll have fun when you’re a millionaire
Imagine all the fun you will have in your old rocking chair
Have fun, it’s later than you think
Have fun, while you’re still in the pink
The years go by, as fast as the blink of an eye
Have fun, have fun, it’s later than you think “
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