Photo Credit: Barry Brecheisen/WireImage
After all the love, understanding, compassion, thrills, tears and laughs Oprah Winfrey has given us over the past 25 years, on Wednesday she ended the last episode ever of The Oprah Winfrey Show by telling viewers everything we've meant to her.
Biting her lip and with a tear welling in her eye, she said: "(I was) a lonely little girl who felt not a lot of love (growing up)... It is no coincidence that I grew up to feel the genuine kindness, affection, trust and validation from millions all over the world," adding, "You and this show have been the great love of my life."
The final episode -- which iVillage live tweeted at twitter.com/ivillage when it aired at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday -- was nothing like the star-studded "Farewell" specials that aired Monday and Tuesday. Instead, the show's last hurrah was simply Oprah standing alone on the stage, speaking in a warm, confident voice that oozed gratefulness and appreciation. The Queen of Daytime recounted the lessons she's learned over a quarter century on the air, mixing in some of her greatest words of wisdom for good measure.
"I wanted to encourage you to be more of yourself," she told viewers, adding that while her show was her calling, people watching must find and act on their own mission. "You can help somebody, you can listen, you can forgive, you can heal," she said. "You have the power to change someone's life."
Of course, Oprah also wanted to drive home the fact that change starts with the person in the mirror. "You are responsible for the energy you create for yourself, and the energy you bring to others. Don't wait for somebody else to save you, to complete you, to fix you."
She also urged people to look for the blessings in their lives. "You're worthy because you're born and you are here," she said. "You alone are enough." She told viewers to validate the people in their lives, because that's what every person wants and needs: "I see you, I hear you, and what you say matters to me."
At the end of the hour, Winfrey said she felt "all sweet, no bitter," and thanked viewers. "I won't say goodbye. I'll just say, 'Until we meet again.'"
She then stepped down the stairs of the stage, walked through the audience -- which included Winfrey's fourth grade teacher, actor/director Tyler Perry, close friend Maria Shriver and best friend Gayle King -- and stopped to give longtime partner Stedman Graham a hug and kiss.
She continued out the studio doors and high-fived staffers lining the hallways and staircase leading to the upper floor. At the top of the stairs, she picked up her blond cocker spaniel, and said, "Sadie, we did it!" She then walked with the pup in her arms toward her office as the show ended... forever.
Wednesday's show was the last original episode; reruns will air through September. Winfrey now turns her attention to her new TV network, OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network. Though she hasn't announced any plans to appear regularly on the channel, what we "know for sure" -- a fave Winfrey catchphrase -- is that we certainly haven't heard the last of Oprah.