“She was the best audience. She was the one I was always trying to make laugh,” Fallon began. “She was such a fan of the show, and everything I did.”
Fallon then became emotional while sharing an anecdote about his mother and the way she expressed her love for Fallon and his sister, also named Gloria.
“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, voice breaking. “Last week, I was in the hospital, and I grabbed her hand and squeezed, ‘I love you.’ I just knew we were in trouble.”
Fallon closed by thanking his fans and studio audience for supporting him through the loss, adding that “we’re going to continue to work really hard to bring some light and laughter into the world.”
“Mom, I’ll never stop trying to make you laugh,” Fallon said, raising his hand in a squeeze gesture. “I love you.”
In a thread on Twitter, Tonight Show writer Mike DiCenzo gave details of the episode’s emotional taping and praised Fallon for returning to the show so soon after his mom’s passing.
Watch Fallon’s full tribute in the video above, then hit the comments with your thoughts — after grabbing some Kleenex, of course.