WATCH: Meredith Vieira Bids a Tearful Farewell to 'Today'

After five years of hard-hitting interviews and humorous on-air antics, the Today cohost says goodbye to coworkers and fans

"I know it's right, but it's hard," said Meredith Vieira, as she started her last morning on NBC's Today.

The 57-year-old Today co-anchor's final day of work on Wednesday was dotted with clips of her memorable moments on the show, heartfelt words and remembrances from coworkers like Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Ann Curry (who will be replacing Vieira as co-anchor), taped tributes from fellow NBC stars like Brian Williams and Jay Leno, and lots of emotion from Vieira herself. She also had her husband, Richard Cohen, and her dog, Jasper, on set to help her celebrate her final day.

"We've lined up a couple of surprises that we don't think will embarrass you," said Lauer. Of course, the show offered its usual lineup of news reports and interviews, and viewers saw segments on the Anthony Wiener scandal, extreme heat warnings throughout the country, and the top commercials of the past year. But throughout the morning, the producers took time out to show past clips of the beloved newswoman at work. In other words, dancing, cooking, swimming, hiking, herding sheep, goofing off with celebrities, drinking Chardonnay and, yes, reporting the news.

"Every single thing you showed is me looking like an idiot!" Vieira laughingly protested.

"No," replied Lauer. "It's you being yourself and having fun."

Parts of the farewell seemed a bit over the top, as when Carole King serenaded Vieira with her song, "You've Got a Friend" (one of Vieira's favorites), and the anchors all held hands and swayed together on the couch. But all the fanfare underscored the fact that Vieira has genuinely left her mark on this show, and that those who worked with her felt truly sad to see her go.

In the closing moments, Roker, Lauer, Curry and Morales -- all clad in yellow shirts professing their love for Meredith -- sat with Vieira on Rockefeller Plaza to say their final goodbyes.

"You have changed my life. You have changed all these people's lives," Al told Meredith. "You will always hold a spot in our hearts. You are the best. I love you."

After kind words from Ann and Natalie, it was Lauer's turn to bid adieu to his co-anchor. "I'm afraid that if I tell you how I really feel, I'm going to turn into a blubbering idiot," he said. "I adore you, and I have since the night we first had dinner five-and-a-half years ago... Your sense of humor is what I'll miss most. You have made me laugh every singled day here, and I thank you for that." He concluded: "I have marveled over the fact that with a talent as large as yours, how small your ego is. You've told us all how to be great teammates, and that's the gift I'll take away from you."

After those heartfelt words, Vieira joked through the tears: "I don't want to go now!" We don't want her to either. Meredith will certainly be missed.

Watch the video of Vieira's tearful Today farewell below:

 

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