Ben Cohen/NBC
Michelle Newman
January 30, 2015 AT 08:47 PM EST

Let’s start things out with a group hug, Team Braverman, shall we? But really, now that we’re all covered in sopping heaps of tissues and our eyes are swollen shut after a series finale that made us feel ALL THE FEELINGS, I think it’s imperative. (Let me know if it becomes annoying when I’m still holding onto you in about two weeks, m’kay?)

Before I begin celebrating the moments that made this final episode of Parenthood so memorable, I’d like to applaud the writers for accomplishing exactly what everyone involved with this show hoped they’d achieve. Reducing us to weeping, worthless wrecks who will have to take a sick day on Friday? No (although it should totally be excused), to giving this show—this family—the ending it deserved. Because although we may be crying tears of sadness that the show is over, I, for one, am also overcome with gratitude that we were given the chance to witness the continued lives of the family we’ve felt a part of for six years, and more importantly, that we got to see they were okay. (Because I’ll be honest, for a heart-stopping moment there toward the end, I wasn’t so sure that’s the direction it was going.) My tears of sadness were mixed with a healthy amount of tears of happiness and gratitude as we said our final goodbye, and for that I’m grateful.

I thought about ranking the biggest tearjerker moments from the episode, but seeing as how I started crying at about minute 8 and was ugly crying long before minute 44 (when it turned even uglier), the entire episode was off the charts. So instead, let’s take a look at the poignant way each story line wrapped up. Feel free to grab your box of Kleenex. I’ll wait.

Joel and Julias big surprise

After getting a call for an emergency meeting with Victor’s social worker, Joel and Julia are understandably worried that Victor’s birth mother might want to reopen the adoption. But the issue isn’t about Victor; it’s about his birth mother. Seems she’s just had a baby girl (not with Victor’s birth father) and wants to give Joel and Julia the first option to adopt her. Before I can even start to shout “THIS IS A TERRIBLE TIME TO ADOPT A BABY,” both Joel and Julia say it for me. They agree that they need to take time to work on them before bringing more disruption to their lives—and the lives of the kids. Yeah, I didn’t believe them, either.

In a sweet moment at Sarah’s wedding, Joel tells Julia that he’s been up all night thinking, and realized, “She’s Victor’s sister. She’s already ours.” Is it a mistake to bring a baby into a rocky marriage, and one that still needs a lot of work to fix? Of course. Do I think they made the right decision? Absolutely. Sure, it’s the finale, and I want everyone and everything to end with a “happily ever after” regardless of if it makes sense, but it’s more than that. Even after all they’ve been through, and even after I was ready to show Joel the door (repeatedly) last season, I believe in Joel and Julia, and I believe that everything they’ve been through has led them to a place of strength. Now, let’s just keep our fingers crossed that Sydney doesn’t combust when she realizes she’s no longer the little darling of the Graham household.

Hank makes the rounds

A couple of episodes ago I designated Hank as the episode MVP, and I’m doing it again. If you’d have told me at the onset of season 6 that the person who’d make me cry the most at the end would be Hank (relatively speaking, of course), I’d have thrown my tissue box at you and called you a liar in my best Valerie voice. But it’s true.

Despite it being “basically symbolic,” Hank stops by to ask for Zeek’s blessing for his marriage to Sarah. Zeek initially pulls his famous cocky attitude and gives him a hard time (“What would you like to say, Hank Rizzoli?”) but when Hank tells him about his Asperger’s—which Zeek didn’t know about but admits it “explains a few things”—Zeek lets him know that if Sarah’s okay with it, then he is, too. Opening up to Hank, and explaining not only what Sarah means to him but all that she is as a person, Zeek gives him his blessing, telling him, “Take care of my litt … my daughter,” before his voice breaks with emotion. “It’s gonna be my honor to do that,” Hank responds. “I’m never gonna stop loving her.” Wait, save the Kleenex because you’re going to need them again immediately.

Next stop on Hank’s marriage-request agenda? UC Berkeley, where Hank asks Drew to be his best man. “I don’t got a ton of friends. Any friends,” Hank tells him (but he’s working on that). Drew accepts and they awkwardly hug it out. Why the tears, you ask? Because Drew hasn’t had a father figure around in a long time (if ever), and over the past few episodes it’s clear that he’ll now have a truly decent one in Hank. So yeah, I cried. And yeah, Hank has emerged as one of my favorite (honorary) Bravermans. Go figure.

NEXT: Everyone’s employed, and Zeek reveals his favorite

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