It’s an understatement to say that I was shocked to see the condition of former Sen. Kay Hagan at her recent appearance for the groundbreaking of the $61 million air traffic control tower at Piedmont Triad International Airport. I knew she had been seriously ill with brain inflammation from a tick-borne virus, but –like many–had no idea it had taken such a toll.

Hagan was elected to the Senate in 2008, defeating incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole. It was an ugly campaign, an inevitable consequence of the popular election of U.S. senators. I did not vote for Hagan in that campaign, not did I vote for her in the failed reelection bid against current Sen. Thom Tillis. I simply did not agree with her political stances. But that did not alter my personal respect for her, which began when she knocked on the door of my condo years ago to state her case for being our next state senator. She was a visible member of the center city Greensboro community–she was often seen walking on the greenway and at the popular downtown farmer’s market–not stumping for office, but just picking out her tomatoes. Not that long ago my neighbor spoke about how she stepped in to help her secure a federally-approved loan to buy her house.

It goes without saying that life transcends politics. With that in mind I wish Sen. Hagan–and her family– well.