After almost 22 years on set, the soap star tried not to "ugly cry" during her send-off

June 03, 2014 05:15 PM
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Crying on cue isn’t hard for a soap opera star. But for Alison Sweeney, who celebrated her last day on set of Days of Our Lives last week, not crying was the issue.

After nearly 22 years playing fan favorite Sami Brady, Sweeney officially retired from the show last week, but not before one last scene.

“All of a sudden I’m walking out on stage and there’s this huge crowd of people,” Sweeney, 37, tells PEOPLE of the surprise send-off members of the cast and crew put together for her. “I realized they were gathering for me. It was so amazing and so touching and special.”

And it was emotional. After seeing some cast members she’d worked with back when she started the show as a teenager, “It was hard to keep it together,” says Sweeney. “My kids [Benjamin, 9, and Megan, 5] were there, so I feel like that helped me avoid the ugly cry. But I totally had tears streaming down my face.”

Among the things she had to lug home from her dressing room: “Fans sent me goodbye gifts. I got a beautiful bracelet with an infinity symbol saying they’ll be my fans forever,” she says. “They went out of their way.”

Scared Scriptless

Still keeping busy with hosting The Biggest Loser, Sweeney admits she has a lot more time on her hands.

“I still woke up at 6 o’clock in the morning the next day, like, ‘Oh my God I’m late!’ ”

RELATED: Alison Sweeney Remembers The Biggest Loser Finale‘s Special Moments

Meanwhile, her new novel Scared Scriptless, out Tuesday, has a title that hits close to home.

“It’s funny because I am now scriptless. It is scary not having a huge stack of scripts to read,” Sweeney says. “It’s a brand new world for me.”