Editor’s Note: Major spoilers lie ahead. If you’re not caught up through the current season, you’ve been warned.

HIMYM fans, the end is near. After nine seasons, we’ll finally have to say goodbye to Ted, Barney, Robin, Marshall and Lily Monday, March 31 at 7 p.m. on CBS.

I’ve been a loyal fan since the beginning of the show, growing up with what many critics called the new “Friends.” To put in perspective how long “How I Met Your Mother” has been on the air, when it premiered on September 16, 2005, Facebook had just dropped the “the” from its name, Motorola Razrs were the most popular phone (the iPhone wouldn’t be introduced until 2007) and Carrie Underwood was our reigning American Idol.

“How I Met Your Mother” originally followed “King of Queens,” in CBS’ Monday night comedy lineup, but quickly became a staple of the network and took the night’s opening 7 p.m. spot in its second season. While its ratings haven’t always been the highest, the show has always had something of a cult following, especially after it began syndication in 2008. “How I Met Your Mother” is also now on Netflix and other streaming sites.

As a fan from the start, I was glad HIMYM never changed too much for its always growing audience. If anything, the show got weirder as it went on. Though not every season has been great (lookin’ at you Season 8), and there are more than a few story lines I wish I could forget (the Wedding Bride, the Captain, Barney’s stripper fiancé), there’s never been anything that stopped me from including the show in my Monday night plans over these last nine years. I was nervous after the announcement last summer that the entire final season of the show would take place over the weekend of Robin and Barney’s wedding, but this season has been one of the series’ best.

The writers thankfully ended the seemingly never-ending but always depressing love triangle between Barney, Robin and Ted early in the season. The season has also been successful by throwing in just enough nostalgia for the show’s longtime viewers while still keeping the characters moving forward and wrapping up what would be a chapter of their lives. Even the episode a few weeks ago that focused solely on what the mother (Cristin Milioti) has been up to all these years was funny and gave us just enough of an update on the show’s title character (whose name we still don’t know). And last week’s episode-ending update for some of the show’s most memorable guest characters was one of the most impressive and adorable sequences ever.

I can’t lie though, I am worried about this dead mother theory that’s been floating around on the internet. In the “Vesuvius” episode, the mother said in a flash-forward to Ted, “What kind of mother wouldn’t be at their daughter’s wedding?” causing Ted to burst into tears. This led many to believe future Ted is telling this story to their kids because their mother is recently deceased. I really hope this isn’t true, simply because it just feels creepy and sad. All this time, we’ve been waiting with Ted for his perfect girl only to have her die young and tragically?

I’m hoping this is just some theory and not what we’ll see in the finale March 31. It would be a shame for one of the most popular and longest-running sitcoms of our time to end on such a sad note. Hopefully the writers will keep up the great work they’ve been doing all season and end these characters’ stories as successfully as that other group of “Friends” that came before them.