The family of rising conservative journalist Bre Payton told Inside Edition she went to bed with flu-like symptoms and never woke up.
A writer for The Federalist and frequent commentator on Fox News, Payton, 26, died abruptly last Friday, sending shock waves through the media and politics worlds.
Now, her family is desperate for answers about how Payton passed so suddenly. She spent Christmas with her family and everything seemed normal, her mother, Cindy, told Inside Edition.
Some family members had been fighting a cold, so they gave Payton vitamin C and she left to go to San Diego to do a TV appearance Wednesday, according to Cindy.
"When I dropped her off [at the train], she seemed fine," said her father, George.
She woke up the next morning and went to do the show. "It wasn't until Wednesday night that she started ... to feel just kind of nauseous," George said.
Just before bed, Payton told her mom she was feeling sick and couldn't keep anything down. She feared she might miss her TV appearance scheduled for the next day and her mom told her not to worry.
"I said, 'OK, take fluids, can I do anything for you?' and of course I prayed for her," Cindy said. "... I said, 'I'll talk to you tomorrow.'"
Just ours later, on Thursday morning, Payton's roommate heard her alarm going off and went to check on her. "She couldn't wake her," Cindy said.
The roommate called 911 and then Payton's family, but she never regained consciousness and died Friday.
The diagnosis? H1N1, aka swine flu. But the family said medical professionals are stumped by how she became so severely ill so quickly.
"The doctor doesn't actually know ... what caused all of it," George said, "and we may never know."
He added: "It didn't seem like she was that sick."