Kelly Ripa returned to “Live” Tuesday (April 26) for the first time since Michael Strahan announced his departure from the daytime talk show a week ago.

When she took the stage to a standing ovation, Ripa was visibly emotional, fighting back tears and finally managing a smile.

“Guys, our long national nightmare is over … look, I’m going to be completely honest. I’m fairly certain that there are trained professional snipers with tranquilizer darts in case i drift ‘too far off message,'” quips Ripa at the start.

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But in all seriousness, Ripa then thanks the viewers and also stands by her decision to take some time off after reportedly being blindsided by the Strahan departure news.

“I first want to honestly, sincerely thank you for welcoming me back to this show. The love, the show of support through this bizarre time has been really overwhelming. I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts. After 26 years with this company, I earned the right. And let’s be honest, I know half of you called in sick to be here, so we get each other,” says Ripa.

“In that time, I gained some perspective. I always speak from the heart, I didn’t want to come out here and just say something I might regret. So what transpired over the course of a few days has been extraordinary in the sense that it started much greater conversation about communication and consideration and most importantly respect in the workplace.”

She goes on to say that the “incredible team” at the show, which is more like a family, is still going strong. “Apologies have been made and the best thing to come out of this is that our parent company has assured me that ‘Live’ is a priority.”

RELATED: Kelly Ripa takes some time off from ‘Live’ after Michael Strahan news

Ripa ends by telling Strahan she is “thrilled” for him. “This is a tremendous opportunity, and I couldn’t be — we couldn’t be — prouder of you.”

Then she adds, “Incidentally, I just want to say one thing — my dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we’re all crazy, and I think he’s right.”

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."