is remembering the late "Glee
" star, saying there are "no words to describe what we're going through" a year after she went missing.
Yolanda Previtire, Rivera's mother, reflected on her daughter's legacy and shared what life has been like since the actor tragically died in a boating accident on Southern California
's Lake Piru in an interview
on "Good Morning America
" on Thursday.
“Sometimes we're afraid of the sorrow being so heavy that we're afraid for our own self, because this is hard,” Previtire said, adding that the family is in therapy
with the trauma.
Rivera went missing in July 2020 after renting
a boat with her 4-year-old son, Josey Hollis Dorsey, who was discovered alone on the pontoon hours after it was supposed to be returned. Rivera's body
was recovered from the water
after days of searching, and authorities ruled her death
THIS MORNING ON @GMA: @JujuChangABC sits down for an exclusive interview with Naya Rivera's mother and sister a year after her tragic death. pic.twitter.com/l7emKro2ac — Good Morning America (@GMA) July 8, 2021
Previtire opened up about her final conversation with her daughter on the lake for the first time.
“I missed two of her FaceTime calls, so I called her back, and we had a beautiful conversation. The sun was kissing her face, and she was just beautiful,” she said, fighting back tears. “She was wearing a white, beautiful swimming
suit, and she was glowing.”
Previtre recalled warning her daughter that "the water's gettin' choppy" and encouraging her to head toward a cove where the lake is "a little bit calmer." Before hanging up, she told Naya to call her when they got off the water.
During the conversation, Previtire also took screenshots of Josey fishing
from the boat, which later assisted police
in locating Rivera's body during the days-long search, which Rivera's sister Nickayla described as "absolute hell."
Rivera's sister, who has since moved in with Rivera's ex-husband and their son, stated that after the tragedy, she "knew the role that I had to take" and that the family is taking things "one day at a time."
“Living it to the fullest, loving each other to the fullest, and not regretting anything,” Nickayla said, “because I know if we could go back in time, we’d hug a little harder.”
Previtire shared that she sees Josey as a "boy version of" her daughter "in every sense of the word," citing "his tenacity, his drive, his zeal, his adventure for life."
“And the most important thing is that he enjoys entertaining and singing at the top of his lungs,” Nickayla added.
Rivera's mother and sister also spoke about the outpouring of love and support from "Glee" fans
, emphasizing the significance of Rivera's character, Santana Lopez, to the LGBTQ community
“I honestly don’t think she realized the impact
she had,” Nickayla said, adding, “my sister, even though she was acting, was touching people
’s real lives and helping them become who they truly are, and she wasn’t ashamed of it.”
“I want my daughter Naya’s legacy to be one that teaches people to love, to care, and to speak up if something isn’t right,” Previtire added. “And to just live life. God has given you one life. You are your own person. Love who you are, because you don’t get another one.”
The cast of “Glee” appeared virtually together in April
to honor Rivera’s legacy at the 2021 GLAAD Media
Awards, which marked the tenth anniversary
of her character’s coming out
on the Fox comedy
she starred in from 2009 to 2015.
Before Rivera's body was discovered, some of her "Glee" co-stars gathered at the lake where she went missing and were photographed holding hands on the shore with Rivera's family.
Rivera was the third major “Glee” cast member to die before the age of 40, her body discovered exactly seven years after Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose at the age of 31. Mark Salling, who was awaiting a sentence for charges of possessing explicit images of children
, committed suicide