However, what was unexpected was the fact that, immediately after election day, I found myself as one of the hundreds of "collateral casualties" resulting from the switch in power from Republicans to Democrats. Many members of my family who are Democrats called to gently rub in the massive GOP losses on November 7, only to find out that I got voted out of office along with many of the members of the House. I certainly don't hold that against them though; in fact, my youngest sister voted for the first time this year, and I can only be proud of the fact that she educated herself about the candidates and issues in her area and went out to cast her ballot.
My last few days on the Hill were really bittersweet, a time when I could roam around some of the offices and visit with old friends to say goodbye. I also took the time to wander through the Capitol one last time and soak in the history and wonder of that magnificent building. I've been around it and in it for so many times that I really took for granted the fact that I'm one of the privileged few who could walk over there whenever I wanted and just look around. At the end, when I realized when my time on staff was at an end, I just had to go through one more time. How often do each of us go through life -- with places, with family and friends, with jobs, with just about anything -- taking so much for granted, and not realizing what we have in front of us until it's too late. It is a powerful lesson indeed -- NEVER take your time here for granted.
I can certainly use the next week after Christmas (a nice period of down-time before my next round of interviews) to reflect on the changes in my life, and to think about many of my friends and coworkers find themselves in a similar position. God has plans for each of them, too; I just hope they are aware of that and carry that knowledge with them from one day to the next.