July 22 (UPI) -- Chris Colfer remembers his former Glee co-star Naya Rivera as a "cool older sister" who always had his back.
The 30-year-old actor paid tribute to Rivera in an essay for Variety published Tuesday following the actress' death at age 33.
Colfer and Rivera played Kurt Hummel and Santana Lopez on Glee, which had a six-season run on Fox from 2009 to 2015. Although their characters often sparred, Colfer said Rivera herself was a talented and caring person.
"In fact, 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," Colfer wrote. "How could a human being be that talented, that hilarious and that beautiful at once? How could one person be responsible for so much joy and be the subject of so many wonderful memories?"
Colfer said watching Rivera perform was "like watching magic unfold before your eyes" and that the actress "could tell a whole story with one expression." He also remembered the actress as a great friend.
"She was the cool older sister you went to for advice, to blow off steam, or to get the hottest take on the latest gossip," Colfer said. "Just being in Naya's presence made you feel protected and regardless of the situation, you knew she'd have your back."
Colfer said Rivera's "greatest talent of all" was being a mother to Josey, her 4-year-old son with her ex-husband, Ryan Dorsey.
"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," Colfer said. "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."
Rivera went missing July 8 during an outing with her son on a rented boat at Lake Piru in California, and was presumed dead by drowning. Her son, who was found alone on the boat, said he saw Rivera disappear under the water. Rivera's body was found July 13.
Former Glee star Heather Morris honored Rivera in a video Monday by dancing to Rivera's song "Radio Silence."
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I want to share something very personal with you all... Grieving looks very differently on everyone...but one things for certain: I've felt it's hard to feel joy or keep busy when mourning without thinking that you're not honoring that person or you're forgetting about them. But @hubbell_woodshop reminded me that honoring someone can mean you're enjoying your life FOR them... I made it to 1M followers in these last few weeks and at first I was resentful because I gained them from a tragedy, but after giving it a breath.. I realized you all have just surrounded me with love and support. That I just see you angels wrapping your wings around me So I'm celebrating 1Million today in a tribute to @nayarivera with her music and her voice that will forever be my favoriteAdvertisement
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