Jimmy Fallon returned to the Tonight Show on Monday for his first broadcast since his mother, Gloria Fallon, died earlier this month — and marked the occasion with one of his show's all-time emotional moments.
"As some of you know, my mother, Gloria, passed away recently," he said at the top of his show. "She was the best audience. She was the one I was always trying to make laugh. She was such a fan of the show, and everything I did."
Fallon, who's normally the most cheerful man in late night, nearly broke down in tears as he recounted his mom holding his hand when he was a kid, and how she did the same when she was in the hospital.
"When we were little, my mom would walk us to the store, me and my sister, and we would hold hands, and she would squeeze my hand three times and say 'I love you,' and I would squeeze back, 'I love you too,'" he said. "And last week, I was in the hospital and
I grabbed her hand and squeezed, 'I love you,' and I just knew we were in trouble."
The host thanked viewers for the well-wishes over the past few weeks, and vowed to "work really hard to bring some light and some laughter into the world."
"Mom, I'll never stop trying to make you laugh, I love you," he ended.
As if his opening wasn't devastating enough, Taylor Swift was the episode's surprise musical guest, bringing her acoustic new song New Year's Day — with nakedly sad lyrics about love and loss — to the Tonight Show stage.