A gentleman wrote me a letter about some stamps he was interested in selling. I asked him to send me a list of what he had. He sent me his list and his phone number to discuss the deal. I called him about the stamps he had. It was one of the most difficult phone calls I ever experienced.

Did we argue back and forth on the price? No. Was he a demanding person to deal with? No. So what was the difficulty?

You see, he lives in Newtown, CT, the site of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Actually, we discussed the stamps for a couple of minutes and concluded the deal rather routinely. That was the easy part.

Some of you know that Iíve also been a volunteer fireman for about 30 years. I saw enough death and destruction in my years in the fire service to last a lifetime. However, I never went through something like Sandy Hook. I hope no one ever has to go through something like that again.

After discussing the stamps, we talked a few minutes. Thankfully, he was not directly affected by the tragedy. He did not lose any family members. But Newtown is a small town. This tragedy affects everyone in that area. On some level, I was able to relate what he was going through because of my many years in the fire service.

His voice trembled at times. The conversation wasnít uneasy or unpleasant. But it was difficult.

For a few moments, the gravity of the situation set in. Who cared about stamps? This gentleman, like most people in Newtown, was hurting. That town went through absolute hell. Everyone was affected, some more than others. In some ways, stamp collecting was an escape, or solace, from the pain of the situation. I donít think he will ever be able to completely block this tragedy from his mind.

Life is short. Sometimes, too short. Thatís why I encourage people to collect for fun. In my opinion, it is the best way to collect stamps. Stamp collecting should not be stressful. It should be an escape from the everyday rigors of life. Stamp collecting should be a place where you can find happiness. I truly believe that.