AUGUSTA, Ga. — The audience at a preschool graduation in Augusta, Georgia, was full of parents, grandparents, and one very good friend: Dan Peterson, who is best friends with Norah Wood. Norah’s mom, Tara, says the two are absolutely inseparable.

“She’s wholly invested in him,” Tara said. “She can’t remember her life before him, and I’m not sure that he wants to remember his before her.”

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Dan Peterson got an unlikely hug while grocery shopping in 2016

 TARA WOOD

Before Dan met Norah in 2016, he was severely depressed. His wife had just died and he was grocery shopping for himself when Norah spotted him. She randomly reached out to him, a total stranger.

“She stood up and said, ‘Hi, old person, it’s my birthday today!'”

Then she had the audacity to demand a hug.

“I said, ‘A hug?!’ I said, ‘Absolutely,'” Dan said.

Norah got her hug and then asked her mom to take a picture of her with her new friend.

“She zeroed in on him like a missile,” Tara said. “His little lip quivered and he was teared up and it was just sweet.”

“I said, ‘You don’t know. This is the first time for quite a while that I’ve been this happy,'” Dan said.

After we first told this story, we thought for sure the love would fade. But here we are, a year and half later, and they are still seeing each other at least once a week.

“It’s remarkable,” Tara said. “I mean, I think a lot of people thought that it wouldn’t continue, but they’re pure magic.”

We asked Norah why she likes Dan. “He’s sweet,” she responded. “Sweet like a peppermint.”

But the surest sign of their connection came just a couple month ago. Norah was hugging Dan, which she always does, but this time was different.

“I couldn’t get her to let go,” Dan said.

Because he hadn’t answered the door right away, Norah was just relieved to find him safe.

We asked Dan what it feels like to be loved that much. “I think you can see,” he said.

We can see.

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