Linda and Bob Parsons dreamed of having children together, yet had trouble conceiving. Undeterred, they made the choice to become foster parents.
Judi Bradley, a foster parent herself, was the social worker who helped them.
Judi and Linda became instant friends and a deep bond formed between the two women.
"We were as close as sisters could be," Judi said. "It wasn't a day that went by that we didn't talk to each other and check in on each other."
They shared another bond as mothers.
"We both were the first white people to get African-American babies and we kind of agreed that our kids had to be raised together," Judi said.
Judi was the first to find out when Linda was diagnosed with colon cancer.
"I was talking to her on the phone when she got the news," she said.
Linda would fight, but the prognosis was grim.
When she felt herself losing her battle, she had the ultimate favor to ask her husband and her friend.
Upon her passing, Linda wanted Bob to be with Judi and for them to raise all their children together. Linda could imagine no better mom for her children than her best friend.
"She would say things to me like, 'You know, if after I'm gone, if you and Bob got together, it would be all right with me,'" Judi said.
Bob and Judi dismissed the idea.
"I would just say, OK, and go on about my business," Bob said.
Linda eventually lost her battle with cancer and passed away.
While Bob and Judi initially didn't take Linda's idea seriously, later while sharing their grief, something suddenly changed.
"We were out in the backyard putting a swing set together and I happened to look up at her, 'cause she was up on the platform, and the way I looked at her just changed all of a sudden," Bob recalled.
Linda's dying wish was about to come true.
"I really think she put a whammy on us," Judi said.
In October 2006, Bob and Judi were married, and their two families became one.
"It was a fairy tale wedding. It was beautiful," she said.
And what a life change it was -- eight kids, two new parents and a three-legged Maltese-poodle mix -- all under one roof.
"Blended families, it's a daily challenge, and you just have to take it one day at a time," Judi said.
From the kids' perspective, the situation seems to be working out fine.
"I know that Judi loves me almost as much as my mom does, but I still do miss my mom," said Bob's son, 12-year-old Tony. "But I was pretty happy when they got married."
This bond of friendship between two women was powerful enough to unite two families and create a love that survived her passing.
Life is often hectic for the family -- and certainly never dull -- but no matter how crazy things become, Linda is never far from the family's thoughts.
"She's part of our family ... and she'll always be a part of our life," Bob said.