This past July 8 marked one year since Glee star Naya Rivera tragically drowned at the age of 33 while out on a small boat with her then four-year-old son Josey at Lake Piru in Venturna Country in Southern California.
Now, 16-days later, Rivera’s ex-husband and father to their son, Ryan Dorsey, is remembering her life, legacy and death all over again, on the one-year anniversary of her memorial and funeral.
‘Today…A year ago we laid you to rest. I still can’t believe it. The year has flown by, so fast that it doesn’t seem like it’s been a year at all,’ the actor, 37, began in the caption of an Instagram post showing Josey as a baby and more recently as a nearly six-year-old boy.
Heartfelt: Actor Ryan Dorsey, 37, pays tribute to ex-wife Naya Rivera on the one-year anniversary that she was laid to rest following her tragic drowning in July 2020
Dorsey proceeded to take time out to give an update on how Josey has changed in the year since his mother tragically died.
‘Our boy has grown so much. He’s such an explorer, so inquisitive. He’s sweet, so funny, and his laugh always lights up the room.
‘He’s an intuitive soul to say the least. To know him is to love him, everyone that meets him is always smiling. He’s doing ok. He’s such a resilient strong kid,’ the Justified star gushed.
The heartstrings get pulled even tighter when Dorsey reveals that Josey misses his mom ‘but knows he’ll see you again, and the invisible string is something that’s helped us out during this ever-evolving transition of your time with us on earth that was unfairly & for reasons we’ll never understand cut short…too soon…’
Glowing words of adoration: Dorsey gave an update on his soon-to-be six-year-old son Josey, whom he shared with Rivera
The actor went to to reveal that July will always be ‘a strange and difficult month’ moving forward, but that he hopes those future years will still be plentiful.
He also noted that it’s been hard looking at any photos or any type of coverage about his ex-wife, but he expects that will change over time.
‘As the years go by strength will be on my side as I will share the memories with what is the brightest star of your legacy left on this earth, our beautiful son, Josey.’ he wrote.
Dorsey also referenced the Instagram collage photo of the late star and their son, which included a snapshot of Josey giving a thumbs up and flashing a wide smile.
‘The thumbs up…only seemed right. I remember the first time he did it back to you. At jujitsu, you gave him a thumbs up and he returned the gesture…it was so sweet.’
Heartbreaking: Dorsey directed his initial words of the post to Rivera, writing, ‘Our boy has grown so much. He’s such an explorer, so inquisitive. He’s sweet, so funny, and his laugh always lights up the room’; mom and son are pictured just over three months before her death
Rest assured: ‘Fly high, Rest In Peace, knowing he’s doing ok…he’s being raised right, and he’s got a lot of family and people around him that love him, and you,’ the proud father wrote to his late ex-wife; mom and son are pictured in a loving embrace in September 2019
‘Maybe it’s silly and doesn’t make sense to be doing this on IG and putting this out there, but so is this whole thing. So there’s that…,’ Dorsey explained.
The West Virginia native then directed his thoughts and words back to Rivera.
‘Fly high, Rest In Peace, knowing he’s doing ok…he’s being raised right, and he’s got a lot of family and people around him that love him, and you.’
He ended by trying to connect with anyone who has ever lost someone close to them in their lives, and how there’s ‘not really any words that make it better…we know some days are better than others…but know our hearts and energy are with you. We keep going, because that’s all we can do while being as strong as we can be.’
Single dad: Dorsey was granted sole custody of their boy after his mother’s death
Rivera, who played Santana Lopez for all six seasons of Glee, tragically drowned on July 8 while swimming with her son Josey at Lake Piru, which is near Santa Clarita, California.
It’s believed that she had jumped into the water to help Josey back onto their small rental boat but couldn’t make it back herself.
Her little boy was found alone in the boat that evening with no sign of his mother.
Rivera’s body was subsequently discovered at the lake on July 13, after a five-day search, and authorities with the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office eventually deemed the cause of death as an accidental drowning.
Tragic: Rivera drowned on July 8 while swimming with her son Josey at Lake Piru, which is near Santa Clarita, California; her body was found five days later at the lake
Dorsey met Rivera back in 2010, and they briefly dated.
The actress would reveal in a 2016 memoir that she had an abortion in 2010, shortly after splitting from Dorsey, due to her skyrocketing career in the wake of her successful role on Glee.
Rivera and Dorsey got together again and were married in July 2014.
By 2016 she had filed for divorce, only to call off the separation about a year later.
They would finally end up divorcing in June 2018, and agree to share joint custody of Josey.
Dorsey was granted sole custody of their boy after his mother’s death.
Breakout role; Rivera played Santana Lopez for all six seasons of Glee (2009-2015); she’s pictured with co-star Lea Michele in 2012