“The messages are going to trickle out. But you’re still here with me. And I’m not done remembering your legacy,” Morris, 33, wrote in an emotional Instagram tribute on Friday, July 17. Four days earlier, Rivera was pronounced dead after a boating accident on Lake Piru in California. She was 33 years old.
Morris and Rivera had a strong bond while working together on the popular Fox musical drama from 2009 to 2015, and remained close friends in the years after Glee went off the air. As she continues to take “a moment to honor [her] grief,” Morris has been sharing photos from her time spent with Rivera and opening up about her favorite memories with the Step Up: High Water star.
“You would tell me ‘you look so skinny’ EVERY TIME you saw me and it made me giggle slash I loved it and when I told you how it made me feel…you said, ‘well I’d always like to hear that I look skinny so I make sure to make others feel good like that,'” the dancer continued. “We had a play date in the works for this week and I can’t wait for it to be over so I can stop thinking about how I missed our chance to be together. I f–king loved how you drank martini’s and no one would know you smoked cuz you were a mastermind at hiding it. I’m doing something every day to honor your strength and it helps me to feel close to you. I love you Nay.”
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We started out as the closest friends and then like all new things, we went through a bit of a rocky phase. However, we stuck by each other’s side and created the most beautiful friendship built out of love and understanding. The last I had the chance to see you in person, I had left oranges outside our home for you to take. I wanted to say hi through the window but my phone didn’t ring when you called (which it never does, f*cking T-Mobile), so instead you and Josey left two succulents on our doorstep as a thank you. I planted those succulents and I look at them everyday and think of you. I still listen to your EP on repeat because from the moment I heard it, it struck me and I always wished the world knew more of your voice. You sent me over 5 dozen SnapChat videos when you and Josey woke up in the morning and I kick myself that I didn’t save one of them. You always shared recipes and I admired your love for food. We vowed to spend every Easter together, even though Covid stole this last one from us. You are and always will be the strongest and most resilient human being I know, and I vowed to carry that with me as I continue to live my life. You constantly taught me lessons about grief, about beauty and poise, about being strong, resilient and about not giving a fuck (but still somehow respectful ). Yet, the utmost important lesson I learned most of all from you was being a consistent and loving friend. You were the first to check in, the first to ask questions, the first to listen..you cherished our friendship and I never took that for granted. We never took photos together because we mutually hated taking pictures…our relationship meant more than proof. I have countless pictures of our babies playing, because we shared that kind of pride and joy. So I’m showing the world a photo of our little goof balls for you, because I know that meant more than anything and they remind me of you and I. I speak to you everyday because I know you’re still with me and even though I’m feeling greedy that we don’t get more time together, I cherish every moment we had and hold it close to my heart.
Rivera’s body was recovered from the lake less than one week after the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department reported her missing. An autopsy later revealed that the actress’ death showed evidence “consistent with a drowning” and that “no traumatic injuries or disease processes were identified.” Authorities also reported that there were no signs of foul play or suicide when Rivera was found.
Hours before the Sorry Not Sorry author was confirmed dead, Morris was one of several former Glee stars to gather at the shore of the lake and share a moment of prayer for Rivera’s safe return. Captain Eric Buschow, spokesperson for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, later told Us Weekly that Rivera’s body was recovered during the cast’s prayer.
“I don’t know who is who in the cast, but there were 12 to 15 people,” he said. “They were down there by the edge of the lake and prayed for about a half hour. … As they were praying, we got a call that the body was discovered on the surface of the lake. We didn’t tell them because anytime we — in the case of a death, we don’t want people to find out from other sources or from the media. We want the family to be notified officially. We don’t want them to learn about it on the news.”