Kathie Lee Gifford gets emotional about time with Hoda Kotb while preparing to exit 'Today' (Exclusive)

It's the end of an era -- and Kathie Lee Gifford is already getting emotional. 

In less than two weeks, Gifford will be saying her goodbyes to the Today show and her partner in crime of over a decade, Hoda Kotb. ET's Nischelle Turner was with the co-hosts on Tuesday as they reflected on their friendship in their last sitdown interview together before Gifford's departure. 

"She's the best friend you can have," Gifford teared up while speaking about Kotb. "I consider Hoda one of my dearest forever." 

"The day that I met Kathie, that was big line of demarcation. I feel like everything changed and got better and got happier," Kotb shared. "I felt more fulfilled and I felt like I took risks that I never thought I could take." 

ET was with Kotb and Gifford in 2008, when the latter had just started her gig on the Today show. Their connection was instantaneous; they cried in the bathroom together thinking of all the fun they'd have together. 

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"My biggest thing was, How could I ever do television at the level I was able to do with Regis [Philbin] and sustain it? ... We had done 15 years and we sort of changed the whole paradigm of daytime television," Gifford explained. "You sort of go, 'Wow, leave that alone.' And I just fell in love [with working with Kotb]." 

"Hoda is sunshine in a bottle, and I think Hoda came into my life when I think I lost a lot of sunshine," she continued. "I was kind of weary and worn out from life."

As the mom of two noted, "you don't bond on the mountain top so much. You bond in the valleys." Kotb was there for Gifford through the hard times, including the death of Gifford's husband, Frank, in 2015. 

"It was Frank who said,' You gotta do it, Kathie.' He said, 'She's wonderful and you guys are gonna be great together... and you're made for this business and you've still got a lot in you to offer,'" Gifford said of how her late husband encouraged her to take the Today show gig. "I was 54 at the time, and I was stunned anybody wanted me then." 

Kotb remembered spending Thanksgiving with the Gifford family, and how they welcomed her in with open arms. "Oh my god, my mom watching football with Frank Gifford!" she recalled. "I remember thinking, Some people open their life and let you come in. And some people make you wait outside the door and maybe you never get in.  But Kathie has always been open."

"I think that's what made life so exciting. It was things we never imagined could be part of our life and they were," she added.

The friends are clearly on the same page. Though beloved for their wine-filled hour on Today, they joked to ET that they've only had "three total" glasses of wine together. 

"That's our story and we're sticking to it!" Gifford cracked. 

Who will cry the most on Gifford's final day remains to be seen. "I think it'll probably be me," Kotb confessed. 

"She's going to be fine," Gifford insisted. 

Gifford's last show on Today airs April 5. 

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Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford together
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Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford together
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Friday, November 16, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and Howie Mandel on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Friday, November 23, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and Donna Farizan on Friday, November 16, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Thursday, October 12, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and Billie Jean King on Wednesday, September 20, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Dylan Dreyer, Jenna Bush Hager, Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford and Al Roker on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Monday, September 5, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Kathie Lee Gifford, Lionel Richie and Hoda Kotb on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Thursday, Aug.10, 2017 -- (Photo by: Zach Pagano/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 18: Hoda Kotb (L) and Kathie Lee Gifford (R) are seen on July 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by VMAL/Star Max/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 18: (L-R) TV personalities Sheinelle Jones, Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford attend the 'DUNKIRK' New York premiere at AMC Lincoln Square IMAX on July 18, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Monday, June 23, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 07: Hoda Kotb (L) and Kathie Lee Gifford attend the 2017 CMT Music Awards at the Music City Center on June 7, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 07: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford attend the 2017 CMT Music Awards at the Music City Center on June 7, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images For CMT)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 07: (L-R) Hoda Kotb,Jason Derulo, Luke Bryan and Kathie Lee Gifford backstage during the 2017 CMT Music Awards at the Music City Center on June 7, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Monday, June 5, 2017 -- (Photo by: Zach Pagano/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford attend the 2017 Matrix Awards at Sheraton New York Times Square on April 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb And Kathie Lee Gifford on the Today Show. Wednesday, April 19, 2017 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford appear to celebrate the BELLA New York Holiday Issue Cover Party and Holiday Shopping Event on December 6, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)
NBCUNIVERSAL UPFRONT -- '2016 NBCUniversal Upfront in New York City on Monday, May 16, 2016' -- Pictured: (l-r) Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, 'The Today Show' on NBC -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31: (L) Kathie Lee Gifford dressed as her former co-host Regis Philbin, and Hoda Kotb, dressed as Kathie Lee Gifford from the morning talk show, 'Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee,' during NBC's 'Today' Halloween at Rockefeller Plaza on October 31, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 08: TV personalities Hoda Kotb (L) and Kathie Lee Gifford attend the Variety's Power Of Women: New York 2016 at Cipriani Midtown on April 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Kathie Lee Gifford, Jennifer Lopez, and Hoda Kotb appear on the 'Today' show on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on Friday, November 23, 2018 -- (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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