Normally, I fill this space with my thoughts about the decking industry. Today, I can’t face a blank computer screen and write about normal things. It is Monday. Last Friday a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., 15 minutes from my home. That is close enough that I often rode my bicycle past the school when I commuted to my previous job. Close enough that on Friday morning, when I was on my way to the University of Connecticut to pick up my son at the end of his semester, I wondered why there were so many state police cars in full lights-and-sirens mode flying down the other side of I-84.

I am lucky in that I have no close personal connection to the events of last Friday. One beautiful little girl shared my last name, but we were not related. The son of a friend attends a different school in Newtown, and my hands shook when I imagined if it had been him — a bright, loving little boy whose favorite things in the world are tractors.

The truth is, it could have been any of our children, or any of our spouses, or any of us. The only relevant lesson I can dredge from this tragedy is to remember how fragile our lives are. When I was a contractor, I worked a ridiculous schedule and frequently missed events in my kids’ lives. It wouldn’t surprise me if many of you are no different. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s another way when you own a business. But always, always remember that while the point of your business is making a better life for your family, the material things you earn go only so far. Each day while you’re on the way out the door, hug your kids and hug your spouse. That may be the last memory you’ll have of them, or they of you.

Andy Engel