"The Real" got real, and really emotional, on Monday. Co-host Tamera Mowry-Housley's absence was felt and talked about, as she skipped the show to grieve with husband Adam Housley and their family following the death of her niece in the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks last week.
Co-hosts Loni Love, Jeannie Mai and Adrienne Houghton spent the first 20 minutes of the show giving an emotional tribute to Mowry-Housley's niece Alaina Housley, talking about gun control and explaining the series of events following the shooting, with a note from Mowry-Housley and her husband.
"As you can see, our girl Tamera isn't here with us," Love said at the start of the show. "She's at home with her family mourning the death of her niece.
"We don't even have time to grieve before the next (shooting) happens," Love continued. "This time it directly affected members of our family. How do you begin to process something like this?"
The three hosts talked gun control and posited solutions to combat mass shootings.
Houghton asked: "What do we do, and the bigger question is why are people doing this?" She also asked a hot-button question about the race of the shooter: "Why is it always a white male? I hate that race has to come into it, but it is a very real question to ask," Houghton said. "I hate the idea that we keep bringing up race ... but it feels like we're being torn apart in so many different directions."
Houghton also read a note from Mowry-Housley to Love.
"She said please tell Loni thank you. Thank you for being there for me and answering her phone at 1 a.m., giving me hope until I got the call. Thank you for holding me and helping me breathe through the unthinkable. Thank you for believing in the Housleys. The Housleys are strong," Houghton said, fighting back tears.
Houghton also said that Mowry-Housley wants "everyone to know that she will do everything she can so that our children and our community feel safe. She said enough is enough, and she will never give up fighting until her dying day."
The hosts also discussed what's been happening with Mowry-Housley since the shooting.
Love said when she received a phone call from Mowry-Housley in the middle of the night, she thought she called her by accident. But when her phone rang again, she realized that something was wrong and went over to Mowry-Housley's home to comfort her.
"We just started getting pieces of information," Love said. "Tamera was calling every hospital she could because we were holding out hope."Mai, who was in tears while she recounted her experience with Mowry-Housley after the shooting, talked about what happened when they found out that Alaina was one of the victims.
"When I called her back, all she had to do was breathe and I just knew," Mai said. "That sound that comes from a human soul when they lose somebody is a sound you'll never forget."
The opening segment ended with a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting. White House reporter April Ryan filled in for Mowry-Housley as co-host during the rest of the show.
Mowry-Housley spoke to CBS News about Alaina's death and said her niece would have wanted to prevent future tragedies.
"Alaina was beautiful," she said. "And she was my friend. Yes, there needs to be a change, but all the noise … nothing's been done."
She added Alaina "wouldn't want this happening to anyone else."
"If I was to walk out of here and the first thing I was to say was, you know, 'Gun control,' guess what? Half the country (snaps fingers), (conversation) ends," her husband Adam said.
"And we don't want the conversation to end," Mowry-Housley added.
Monday, she acknowledged her young son's birthday on social media, sharing a photoof him with her niece.
"Happy 6th birthday Aden!" Mowry-Housley wrote. "Alaina was excited to come to your birthday party.
"But as you said buddy," she continued, " 'She lives in your heart now.' We love you."