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I did not know Bre Payton, but I saw her on television a lot and know a lot of people who were her friends and colleagues.

They all talk about what a wonderful, bright, and warm human being she was.

I say was, past tense, because Ms. Payton shockingly died out of nowhere yesterday at the age of 26 after contracting a deadly case of the H1N1 flu.

As I said, I did not know Bre Payton, but this one hit me hard because I have three daughters who are all close in age to her.

My thoughts and prayers are with this young woman’s friends and family after this tragic death.

But for me, more than anything, what this served as to me was a wake-up call about what life is really all about.

Whether they agreed or disagreed with Bre Payton’s political views, virtually everybody who ever met her has nothing but nice things to say about her.

This is because politics are important, but family and friendship should always transcend that.

So many stories these days of husbands and wives fighting, parents and children, friends, neighbors…..all over politics.

And not the usual arguments, either.

We are talking about feuds developing over this, to the point of people no longer speaking to each other.

I have never understood that and when I see a tragedy like this occur, it becomes even clearer why.

This may sound corny or cliche, but life is a precious gift and you only get one chance to live it.

There is nothing wrong with being passionate and active about the issues you believe in and fighting for them vigorously.

But ultimately, what really matters most are the people closest to you, the ones who have your back no matter what.

Breaking those kind of bonds over differences in opinion over policy is no way to go through life.

Because what we saw yesterday is that one day you are a vibrant 26 year-old with a bright future and the world at your feet.

But that could all be gone in an instant.

So, If you want to honor Bre Payton’s memory, do it by remembering what those who new her said about her, and they joy and kindness she always exuded.

Then, use that as a model for how to treat others, even those with whom you do not see eye to eye.

You will be a lot happier for it and live a much healthier, productive life, too.

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