Cecily Strong Explains Why She Didn't Reveal Her 'Saturday Night Live' Exit Before Her Final Show

Cecily Strong
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The beloved castmember departed the show this past weekend, halfway through season 48.

This past episode of Saturday Night Live was a surprisingly emotional one. After 11 seasons as a stand-out talent on the sketch comedy series, Cecily Strong took her final bow as a castmember.

The news broke in the afternoon before the show hit the air, with SNL sharing a message of gratitude for Strong. Then, during the episode, she had not one but two send-off moments -- first during "Weekend Update," when she reprised one of her recurring characters for a final time, and then during the final sketch of the night when she was serenaded by host Austin Butler and the entire rest of the cast.

On Sunday, Strong took to Instagram to share a clip of the night's last sketch -- which included her co-stars crooning Elvis' "Blue Christmas" -- and shared her thoughts on leaving the series after so long.

"My heart is bursting. I have a lot of big huge life changing love to unpack, so this is what I can say tonight," Strong wrote, sharing a memory from her very first day as an SNL castmember over a decade ago.

"Ten and a half years ago I got my dream job. The first actual work day I tried to be very cool and make it look like I knew what i was doing and I was supposed to be there. I left that night around 11 after saying goodbye to everyone. I got stuck wandering around the building because none of the elevators went to the first floor and I was trying so hard to avoid having to go back upstairs to ask for help because I’d already said goodbye!!! I think I went to every floor trying to figure out if there was another exit I was missing. I might have even gone into a stairwell," she recalled. "I ended up going back upstairs and my soon-to-be great friend Colin Jost helped me out and walked me over to the secret night time elevator."

"It felt as impossible to leave that night as it does now," she continued. "And my great friend Colin Jost ended up helping me again, this time by getting Elvis to sing me off (thank you Austin Butler you absolute kind and generous dreamboat)."

Strong went on to apologize to her fans for not revealing her plans to leave earlier, and explained it was because she didn't "want the extra pressure on something already so emotional for me."

"I’m so grateful I got to have these wonderful past six shows to help me ease into it and get to meet and laugh and probably overly hug Molly, Marcello, Devon, and Michael who I think are not only brilliantly funny but really great humans. I am ready to go, but I’ll always know home is here," she concluded. "I’ve had the time of my life working with the greatest people on earth."

Strong was met with an outpouring and love and congratulations from her friends, fans and several former and current SNL castmembers.

"Congratulations Cicely 😍on your amazing run at SNL," former SNL star Molly Shannon commented.

Strong's co-stars Bowen Yang and Heidi Gardner also shared their love.

"Cecily❤️❤️❤️ the undeniable champ. could do anything tossed her way. ANYTHING. I’ve truly never seen anything like it. I love you so much and thank you for being a big sister, a mentor, and a friend," Gardner wrote, while Yang remarked, "You are life-changing."

Kenan Thompson -- the longest-running castmember in the show's history, who also led her send-off sketch -- responded simply with a string of heart emojis.

Season 48 is on hiatus through the new year, with new episodes expected to kick off in mid-January.