The morning introduction on “Today” started the same as it always has for Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb this December 11. The playful montage of the morning partners proclaiming “How do we do it, day after day?” wearing beachwear and sipping cocktails. The latest theme song, for the ladies, by Meghan Trainor, hasn't even been broken in well enough to get completely memorized, much less dusty. Still, this Tuesday morning seemed usual enough, until Kathie Lee Gifford shared the news that made her workday BFF break into tears, even though she admitted that she “knew this was happening,” and the tears came for both the ladies.

The welcome tissue box descended from the ceiling.

Millions of faithful “Today” fans who tune in especially to savor the banter and the girlfriend touch between Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb surely dropped their coffee cups along with their jaws when Kathie Lee divulged that “When it's our 11th anniversary, I'm going to be leaving the Today Show.

No matter their combined years of professional, nothing could stop the full shower of waterworks between the longtime pals after that point.

Feelings from the heart

Over the past year, Kathie Lee Gifford has experienced a personal and creative renaissance, returning to music and becoming immersed in her film project, “Then Came You” alongside her favorite “Today” guest host, Craig Ferguson. Part of her future plans may include a relocation to Nashville, where her musical collaborator, Brett James, lives with his family. She also has developed a great fondness for the rustic hills of Scotland [VIDEO], as she mentioned last week in talking about her most beloved places.

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Gifford stroked Kotb’s back as she recalled that it was “falling in love with an Egyptian goddess” that made all the difference for the host, who was going to take the morning job for just one year. Gifford also related that it was the bond between all the “beautiful people” who “do life” with the hosts every morning and share intimate details of life, that gave her staying power.

Kathie Lee referred to Kotb as “Hoda mama,” this morning, in honor of the miracle of motherhood that happened last year with Kotb’s adoption of daughter, Haley Joy.

She teased that her co-host started as just “Hoda,” then was “Hoda woman,” as so many fans remember, as the two became more than co-workers. Gifford also insisted that her stint in the business has been "120 years."

After Kathie Lee's “I love you,” the tears started, again, for Hoda as she recalled, “the moment you stepped into my life with both feet, everything changed.” Kotb credited Gifford in being a catalyst for “everything good in my life” that has happened “because you came.” She referenced meeting her partner, Joel Schiffman, and how it was making a speech as a “Today” host that led to their meeting and becoming a family.

Kotb credited these milestones to Kathie Lee, saying that “you chose me.”

Chemistry can't be faked

Both the “Today” co-anchor and Kathie Lee Gifford broke into laughter over their trademark tissue box, infrequent need since their 2008 coming together.

Gifford fondly remembered their starting out outside on the Plaza, with blustery winds blowing all Hoda’s cards away. Those impromptu moments of “winging it” let the ladies, the network, and millions of fans see that they had a chemistry that clicked.

They soon earned indoor accommodations and their own hour on “Today.”

Kotb also remembers coming to Kathie Lee's home for dinner before Gifford officially took the job. Kathie Lee's late husband, Frank Gifford, assured Hoda that Kathie Lee was someone who could be trusted to always catch a partner in need. These partners have been catching each other for over a decade, and have shared countless more dinners and delights.

Hoda's embrace was there for Kathie Lee in the loss of her husband, and for the song of healing and assurance that Kathie Lee performed on the “Today” stage last fall, “He Saw Jesus.” That moment marked one kind of new beginning for Kathie Lee Gifford, and in April of 2019, her 11th anniversary on the morning mainstay, she will begin another journey. Kathie Lee hugged Hoda for a long moment, then the veterans moved on with the show.

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