May 25th, 2011
09:22 AM ET
After 25 years, the time has come to say goodbye to "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
The talk-show host has warmed up to her farewell episode with a star-studded spectacular at Chicago's United Center, which, if you're anything like us, quickly brought out the waterworks when it aired this week.
Don't put the tissues away yet, because we're expecting nothing less from Winfrey's final hour. According to WGN, the show will be more intimate, and we can expect Winfrey to break down what she's learned over the past 25 years. Join us here as we live-blog the last episode. Are you ready for it?
10 a.m. ET: They're launching us into the final show with clips of retro "Oprah Winfrey Show," from her very first episode. Oprah herself comes out in a lovely pink dress, and she looks composed in front of the screaming fans, all giving her a standing O. One lady's already crying, and we're only a minute in.
10:05 a.m. ET Oprah takes us on a walk down memory lane, all the way back to that very first episode, when she was about to turn 30. At that time, "I didn’t have a vision," Winfrey says. "I just wanted to do a good job. I was so happy to get the job ... as you can see from my first day on 'AM Chicago,' I had no publicists advising me, no stylists, there was no hair and makeup team. Just a Jheri curl and a bad fur coat."
10:12 a.m. ET: Oprah says that she "started the show as a job, but it wasn’t long before I understood there was something else going on here. Sometimes I was a teacher, and more often, you taught me. It’s no coincidence that I always wanted to be a teacher and I ended up in the world’s biggest classroom, and this will be the largest class from this stage."
10:15 a.m. ET: This isn’t about a gift-giving ceremony, Oprah explains. "There will be no guests, no surprises, you will not be getting a car. This last hour is about me saying thank you, it is my love letter to you. I want to leave you all with the lessons that anchor my life. Everyday that I stood here I knew that this was exactly where I was supposed to be. There was many a day I came to work tired, but I showed up because I knew that you were waiting, you were waiting for whatever we had to offer. That’s why I never missed a day in 25 years."
10:16 a.m. ET: Oprah says the lesson she wants everyone to get from this show is to know "what sparks the light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world. I didn’t even imagine that the show would have the depth and the reach that (it has now). ... Wherever you are, that’s your stage, your circle of influence. That’s your talk show, that’s where your power lies. … You have the power to change somebody’s life. Everyone has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it."
10:20 a.m. ET: Oprah talks about how she's still feeling the love, not only from her surprise farewell spectacular, but from all of the posts on her website, the tweets, and the letters she's gotten from her viewers. This last show, she says, is a thank you and a love letter to all of those people who have been tuning in.
10:22 a.m. ET: From her early shows, when there was a focus on people making mistakes and learning from them, Oprah says the ultimate lesson there was that "nobody but you is responsible for your life. It doesn’t matter what your mama did, doesn’t matter what your daddy did, you are responsible for your life. What is life? Energy. And you are responsible for the energy that you create for yourself and you are responsible for the energy you bring to others. ... That's what we learned on this show. You are responsible for your life, and when you get that, everything changes. Don't wait for someone to fix you, complete you, or change you. When you are responsible for your life, you get free."
10:33 a.m. ET: There's another huge lesson that Oprah relays, one that truly crystallized after this year's episode featuring Iyanla Vanzant. "The show has taught me that a common thread that runs through all our pain and suffering is unworthiness," Oprah says. "There’s a difference between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing that you are worthy of being happy. That never became more clear to me than the episode with Iyanla Vanzant this year. ... What I got was, we can all block our own blessings because we don’t feel inherently good enough, or smart enough, or pretty enough. The show has taught me that you’re worthy because you were born and you are here. Your being here, and being alive, makes you worthy. You alone are enough."
In the end, she adds, we all share the desire to know that others see us, hear us and value what we say. "Understanding that principle has allowed me to hold the microphone for you all. It has worked for this platform and I guarantee you it’ll work for you. Try it with your (family) and friends: I see you, I hear you. What you say matters to me."
10:42 a.m. ET: What's the secret to "The Oprah Winfrey Show's" success? "I say my team, and Jesus," Oprah tells the audience. "Nothing but the hand of God."
For those who question what God she's referring to, "I’m talking about the same God you’re talking about. The alpha and omega. The source and force of everything there is, the one and only G-o-d," Oprah says. "I know I’ve never been alone, and you haven’t either. That presence, that flow, some people call it grace, it’s working in my life at every single turn. It’s yours for the asking." She added, "God is love and God is life. And your life is always speaking to you, first in whispers."
10:46 a.m. ET: Oprah says that while she doesn't really have any regrets, the one thing she wasn't able to bring enough attention to was the sexual seduction, molestation and rape of children.
10:52 a.m. ET: As the final show comes to a close, Oprah says she hopes her viewers will "all be the safe harbor for somebody else, to do for them what you have said the show has done for you. " She goes on, "I want you to keep in touch, e-mail me at email@example.com. It’s the personal e-mail account for all of you...I want you to know that what you have to say matters to me. "
10:54 a.m. ET Oprah says that all of you out there watching her show are the ones who taught her what love is. "It’s no coincidence that I grew up to feel genuine affection, validation and trust. From you whose names I will never know, I learned what love is. You and this show have been the great love of my life."
10:56 a.m. ET: Before heading into the audience for one last time, to shake hands and greet her viewers, Oprah says that "every single day I came down from my makeup room, I’d offer a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity to do this work. To be embraced by all of you, it's one of the greatest honors a human being can have."
Is leaving the show bittersweet? No, she says, it's "all sweet, no bitter. Many of us have been together for 25 years. We’ve had our 'aha' moments together, we’ve done our gratitude journal together. So I thank you all for your support and trust in me. I thank you for tuning in everyday with your mothers and sisters and partners, gay and otherwise. I thank you for being a sweet inspiration to me."
And then the final words: "I won’t say good-bye, I’ll just say, until we meet again. To God be the glory."
10:59 a.m. ET: Tyler Perry was spotted in the audience, and other celebrities are already reacting to Oprah's farewell. Mariah Carey tweeted, “Thank u Oprah for inspiring, educating & most importantly giving so many the power to dream & have hope these past 25 yrs! Love & God bless.” Says Niecy Nash, "@Oprah Thank You for all you have given us for 25 years! Hoping the next 25 yrs for you are even better than u imagined:)"
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