“I cherish every moment we had and hold it close to my heart.”

Heather Morris has paid tribute to her Glee co-star Naya Rivera.

Earlier this week, Rivera’s body was recovered after she went missing at Lake Piru, California, with the county medical examiner confirming that she had drowned.

Tributes poured in for the 33-year-old actress on social media from her Glee co-stars including Lea Michele, Dianna Agron, Alex Newell, Kevin McHale, Jane Lynch, Chris Colfer and Demi Lovato.

Glee creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan also penned a powerful tribute, calling Rivera “one of the most talented, special stars” they had ever worked with.

Morris, who helped authorities in the search for Rivera, said they “stuck by each other’s side and created the most beautiful friendship built out of love and understanding” in an emotional Instagram post.

“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,” she wrote. “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.”

Morris uploaded several photos of their children on play dates, but none of them together, because they “mutually hated taking pictures” and their relationship “meant more than proof”.

“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,” she continued.

“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.”

Morris and Rivera received widespread acclaim for their performances as Brittany Pierce and Santa Lopez, and their romance is often hailed as one of the most authentic (and beloved) LGBTQ+ relationships in television history.

On social media, Glee fans shared how Rivera’s character helped them come to terms with their sexuality.

“Glee’s lgbt representation was what made me accept myself,” wrote one fan. “Naya Rivera did what years of self assurance couldn’t, and i probably wouldn’t have been out and proud if it wasn’t for her.”

Another tweeted: “As a young queer Latina myself watching her fighting and supporting the lgbt community saved my life, I felt seen, the way she portrayed and fought for Santana Lopez impacted me.”

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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.

A post shared by Heather Morris (@heatherrelizabethh) on