'Workaholic' dad shares heartbreaking post after learning his son had died during a conference call
Having children will always be a joyous occasion for most people in their lives. However, when maternity or paternity leave comes to an end and those parents must tear themselves away from their kids in order to put food on the table, it can be an emotional struggle to contend with.
But for some parents, it is not uncommon for them to become so engrossed in their careers that they can find themselves unknowingly neglecting their families.
One business owner who knows this all too well is self-confessed "workaholic" J.R Storment, who found out his eight-year-old son had died while he was in a conference call. Now, the father - who founded the cost management system Cloudability in 2011 - has shared a heartbreaking message with all working parents.
Sharing an essay of his tragedy on LinkedIn, the father recalled the moment he took the devastating call from his wife, informing him that one of their twins had died:
"Eight years ago, during the same month, I had twin boys and co-founded Cloudability. About three months ago Cloudability was acquired. About three weeks ago we lost one of our boys.
"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.'
"'What?” I responded incredulously.
"'Wiley has died.' she reiterated.
"'What?! No.” I yelled out, 'No!'
"'I’m so sorry, I have to call 911.'
"That was the entire conversation."
Wiley Storment's lifeless body was found in his bed by mom Dr. Jessica Brandes. Wiley had suffered a rare complication of mild childhood epilepsy. J.R had gone to work that morning without checking in on his sons.
The father - who hadn’t taken more than a week off work in eight years - is now urging parents to put their families before work.
"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. 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."
In his essay, J.R explains how Wiley had always dreamed of one day starting his own 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 spaceship building company. In each of these scenarios he was the boss." Below is a snippet of Wiley's diary in which he describes his passion for technology.
J.R's wife, Jessica, has also penned an essay on her version of the events, which you can read in full here. However, she also shared an important message for all parents who read her post:
"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. You will not regret the emails you forgot to send. From now on, if you email or text me and my reply takes longer than expected, know that I am with the people I love sharing my time, creating my new identity and I encourage you to do the same."