After the election in 2018, I spent some time considering what to do next. I did all the things that anyone does to find a job. I worked on my resume. I did informational interviews. I struggled with what so many people across Tennessee struggle with — finding a job that pays a wage you can live on.

I decided I needed to keep fighting for the issues I care about, so I volunteered to be my voting precinct’s captain and held weekly canvasses to register people to vote. I also donated, volunteered, supported, and fundraised for candidates for local office who shared my vision of a government that works for all of East Tennessee.

In April 2019, my Mom, who was in a memory care unit, became gravely ill.  After several days in the hospital and calling all the relatives preparing them for her death, she miraculously recovered. She went on to live about another 6 months and I gave up the idea of getting a job so that I could spend almost every day visiting her.

I’m not sure she knew who I was. She always called me “honey” when I visited her. She called everyone “honey.” I would ask her what my name was and she’d look away and laugh.  I’m glad I spent those last six months with her.  We watched a lot of Andy Griffith together.  I was with her when she died.  I’m glad she died then and not now. It would be too painful to have to watch her die through a window.

I feel really blessed that it all worked out the way it did.  I miss her a lot but she is in a much better place. She was very proud that I ran for Congress.  She was able to vote for me and I remember that she couldn’t quite remember her birthday, but when asked if she was a republican or a democrat, she immediately responded, “DEMOCRAT!”  It makes me chuckle to remember it.

Watching the decline of my Mom’s health and dealing with her death only furthered my resolve to fight for a healthcare system in Congress that works for everybody. Not just for her or for me, but for all Americans, who are forced to deal with a confusing system that costs too much and covers too few.