One year after Naya Rivera’s death, the late actress’ mother, Yolanda Previtire, and sister, Nickayla Rivera, are opening up about their grief.
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“It was a beautiful morning. I missed two of her FaceTime calls,” Previtire recalled during a Thursday, July 8, Good Morning America appearance of Naya’s final day. “I called her back and I said, ‘Naya, where are you?’ And she’s like, ‘Me and [my 5-year-old son], Josey, we’re gonna go to the lake and I was gonna have him fish.’ I told her, ‘The lake’s getting choppy,’ and I said, ‘I love you. Call me when you get off the water.’”
She went on to say, “We had a beautiful conversation. The sun was kissing her face, and she was just beautiful. She had a white, beautiful swimming suit on, and she was glowing.”
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The retired model took screenshots of her video chat with the Glee alum, which later helped locate Naya’s body after she disappeared from Lake Piru, California. “Thank God I took the pictures because they were able to look at the topography of the land to locate where they were,” Previtire said.
Waiting for the singer’s body to be recovered was “awful,” Nickayla, 26, said, while her mom called it “hell on earth.”
Since the Grammy nominee’s death, Naya’s son, Josey, has been living with his dad, Ryan Dorsey, and his aunt. Nickayla gushed about his similarities to her sister, saying that the little one “loves to entertain.”
The model explained on Thursday that he “sing[s] at the top of his lungs.” Previtire added, “He’s like a boy version of her in every sense of the word. His tenacity, his drive, in zeal, his adventure for life. He’s Naya in boy form.”
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The mother-daughter pair laughed while describing Josey’s antics, but later spoke emotionally about the “heavy” grief they are battling “one day at a time.”
“Sometimes we’re afraid of the sorrow being so heavy that we’re afraid for [ourselves],” Previtire said. “I feel Naya’s energy constantly telling me, ‘Mom, be happy. Don’t cry. I’m OK. Go get Josey. Have fun.’ And I feel that it’s coming from her. I literally wake up every morning, and it’s almost like a restart button, and I have to shake it off … one foot at a time. And here we are.”
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