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Together, we mourn

Today, I am in mourning. I am experiencing one of those lowest of lows because the Saints season is over. I share this grief with all other Who Dat faithfuls. Because that's what it is … grief.

As in any serious relationship, when we love something with all of our heart and soul, we're exposed to pain when it ends. We know there will be other opportunities in the future, but we aren't sure if it will last as long the next time, or if it will have the same spark. Despite the disappointment, we're thankful for the time we had together. And we know that we will experience those highest of highs once again.

We believe.

Everyone in the Who Dat nation deserves a moment to grieve for the end of this season. But we shouldn't wallow in our sadness, because that's not the New Orleans way. Here, we throw parties at funerals.

So I encourage all Saints fans to join me in celebrating the joy our team brought us this season.

I celebrate, too, my fellow black and gold diehards, because the Who Dat Nation is truly special. Over the past few days, the response to my article about diehard fans has been overwhelming. From the diehard who once walked five miles to watch a playoff game while serving overseas, to the wife who forced her Philadelphia-sympathizer husband to watch the game outside in the cold during the playoff game against Philly because he is an Eagles fan, these tales of fandom have been a pleasure to receive.

Our fans are truly a reflection of this city: Incredibly creative, insanely passionate and just downright hilarious. And maybe a little bit nuts (in the best way possible).

New Orleans transplants find a way to get lucky Popeye's in Salt Lake City.

New Orleans transplants navigate airport security to find a lucky Popeye's dinner in Salt Lake City.

One of my favorite stories of Saints devotion this season came from a friend and fellow diehard. Originally from New Orleans, she and her husband live in Utah. She was extremely distressed that there is not a Popeye's in Salt Lake City. That didn't stop her and her fellow Who Dats from finding a solution. They realized that there was a Popeye's … in one of the terminals at the airport. A friend had a work pass that allowed her to go through security and pick up the required three-piece meal. On the way through security, wearing her Keenan Lewis jersey, of course, she got the passengers in line to join her in a Who Dat chant.

The thought of not having Popeye's for the game was out of the question. As my friend put it: "We need to do whatever it takes."

And we will keep doing it. Even if it means hopping on one foot while taking a shot of whiskey because it once positively changed the course of the game. Whatever it takes.

And let's face it. A Super Bowl in New Jersey? No thanks. We will wait for warmer temperatures until we make it back to the big show. So start preparing for next season. As my friend recently informed me, there are only seven months until pre-season starts.

Sign #11 that you are a diehard Saints fan: You never stop believing, because there's always next year.

Here are a few favorite fan stories that illustrate the meaning of diehard:

"I feel your pain - my husband is from Philadelphia, so you can imagine the week I spent leading up to last Saturday's glorious victory. We made the mistake of starting to watch the game together; I was wearing my Deuce jersey in honor of our last playoff victory over the Eagles. This did not last long, and approximately 8 minutes into the first quarter, he was banished to the patio TV. So what if it was 28 degrees? He is from Philly, and I am constantly hearing that 'real' football is played outside in cold weather." - Lisa S.

 "I actually had a tear in my eye as I remembered my dad taking me to games in the Dome as a kid during these times as well. Me, with my chipwich, him with his beer, telling me to 'pick a player and just watch him during the play.' The the next play, 'Pick a different player; this is how you learn positions.' This is how we got through the Ken Stabler, Aaron Brooks games!  Hell, we even had season tickets to The Breakers! I was at the Superbowl. My wife and I had registered for a marathon in Melbourne, Florida 10 months prior, having no idea that some moron would schedule a race on Superbowl Sunday morning, much less that my (and now my wife's) beloved Saints would be there. We ran the 26.2 miles, got in the car and drove to Miami, where we had 19th row tickets to what I call the best and longest day of my life." - Adam A.

"As a long-time military guy, I've been all over the world and for the last 7 years, I worked in Afghanistan and Iraq. I remember this one night, we were playing on the Armed Forces Network, and I had to walk more than 5 miles, through the freezing rain and snow to watch the game in a TENT with no heater...wrapped up in a sleeping bag! But when we won, I didn't mind the walk back at all! Saints fans GO THERE! WHO DAT!" - Patrick G.

"You don't know what real fulfillment is unless you spent 18 straight years just hoping for a winning season ... unless you sat through every moment of a 62-7 loss on OPENING DAY.... unless the ULTIMATE moment for the first 35 years was when somebody else's player DROPPED THE BALL (Hakeem, in case you were wondering) ... and then after watching, older relatives pass away and never see the promised land..... you wore a dress at a parade and then Tracy Porter intercepts a pass from the 'invincible one' and right there... before your eyes.... in living color you got to watch through tear filled eyes YOUR QB.... YOUR Coach... YOUR owner lift the Lombardi and bring it home to you.... That's what being a diehard FEELS like." - Robert R.

"My family actually sat me down after the Panthers loss and said that I had to get a grip because this is only a game. 'Only a game?' I said. Rubbish. And to make matters worse, we live in the Charlotte area. My son is a HUGE Scam Newton fan, but my darling daughter LOVES Drew Brees and all things Who Dat. I think she will be remembered quite well in my will." - Trevis V.

Megan Peck writes about the agony and the ecstasy of being a sports fan in New Orleans for NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]

Native New Orleanian Megan Peck writes occasionally about lie in New Orleans for NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]