Chris Colfer has penned a touching tribute to his late Glee co-star Naya Rivera, saying he was "blessed beyond belief" to call her his friend.
The 33-year-old actress was found dead in Lake Piru in California, five days after an extensive search and rescue operation was launched when her four-year-old son Josey Dorsey was found alone on a boat.
Chris, who starred alongside Naya in the hit U.S. TV show from 2009 to 2015, penned an essay for Variety in which he remembered the actress, and revealed he's still struggling to come to terms with her passing.
"The process of losing her has been such a nightmare, I find myself wondering if Naya was even real or if she was just a dream all along," he wrote. "How could a human being be that talented, that hilarious and that beautiful at once?' he went on. 'How could one person be responsible for so much joy and be the subject of so many wonderful memories?
"When someone is as talented as Naya, saying she was also one of the funniest and most quotable people that I’ve ever met sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s the absolute truth."
Chris added that Naya could often be found on "particularly rough days of filming" outside smoking a cigarette in "her bright red cheerleading uniform".
"She would raise an invisible glass and say, 'To being role models!' or 'City of dreams, huh?'" he remembered. "Even after an eighteen-hour day of singing and dancing, when mustering a smile felt impossible, Naya could make you laugh out loud."
And praising her values, Chris continued: "Just being in Naya’s presence made you feel protected and regardless of the situation, you knew she’d have your back,' he wrote. 'She was never afraid to stand up to authority, she always called out mistreatment where she saw it and she always told you the truth — even when it was hard to hear."
Concluding his essay, Chris wrote: "Naya leaves behind a void that only Naya herself could fill. To have a friend like her, even briefly, is to be blessed beyond belief. She is a shining example of the impact a person can have when one lives fearlessly. Her loss is a tragic reminder to celebrate every moment we possibly can with the people we love because the only thing we know for certain about life is how fragile it can be."
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