Her BFF! Jenna Bush Hager opened up about Hoda Kotb’s absence from the Today show following her daughter’s hospitalization — and the bond that’s been formed between the two co-anchors.
“Hoda makes my life full,” Hager, 41, told Entertainment Tonight in an interview published on Thursday, March 9. “And it’s so interesting, but you don’t really know until somebody’s kind of gone, unexpectedly, how much you depend on them.”
Hager, who has hosted Today With Hoda & Jenna alongside Kotb, 58, since 2008, told the outlet that she wrote a note to her longtime pal explaining how much their friendship means to her. “I don’t even know if you know, how much you impact my life,” she recalled writing to the Oklahoma native while tearing up.
Kotb returned to Today on Monday, March 6, after a lengthy absence from the live tapings. The children’s book author revealed that her 3-year-old daughter, Hope, had been in the hospital. (Kotb shares Hope and daughter Haley Joy, 6, with ex-fiancé Joel Schiffman.)
“My youngest [daughter], Hope, was in the ICU for a few days and in the hospital for a little more than a week,” Kotb told cohost Savannah Guthrie at the time. “I’m so grateful she’s home. … I was waiting for that day to come. And we are watching her closely. I’m just so happy.”
While detailing her daughter’s recovery on Monday, Kotb recalled a sweet interaction she had with her little one. “The other day … she had in her hand two little confetti stars, and she said, ‘I got two, Mom. One for me and one for you,’” she recounted. “And I thought to myself, ‘Even when she’s not feeling good, she’s still giving everything away.’”
The This Just Speaks to Me author also reflected on the care her daughter received while in the hospital and expressed her gratitude to the medical experts who helped her.
“When your child is ill, the amount of gratitude you can have for people who helped you out … I’m grateful for the doctors at Weill Cornell who were amazing and the nurses,” she gushed. “And I’m grateful to my family. Kotb later revealed that Hope is out of the hospital and doing well.
“She’s vibrant and brilliant,” she said. “I’m over the moon that she’s home.”
The following day, Kotb took to social media to thank fans for their ongoing messages of love and support.
“I have read your notes … your posts … thank you,” she tweeted on Tuesday, March 7. “Means more than you will ever know xo.”
Following her co-anchor’s return earlier this week, Hager — who shares daughters Mila, 9, and Poppy, 7, and son Hal, 3, with husband Henry Chase Hager — told ET that Kotb shared a message which put things in perspective.
“I think she said it best. She said, ‘You know, it’s a Monday and then it’s an ordinary day, and things can change in a second. And I am just so grateful that I have a partner in television that appreciates every single moment, and encourages me to do the same,” Hager shared on Thursday. ‘And I have these three precious children who mean everything to me. So, it’s nice that we both have our priorities in check.”
She continued, “I feel like sometimes in New York City, things can get crazy, and your world can become too fast, and it sort of slowed everything down and reminded us what’s important.”