The cast of the beloved musical comedy series was left reeling when Rivera’s body was found on Monday following a search for the star, who went missing last week during a lake trip in Southern California with her young son.
The recovery of Rivera’s body just happened to fall on the seventh anniversary of Monteith’s death. And that, in McHale’s eyes, is no coincidence.
“I’m not religious by any means, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that Cory didn’t help find our girl today,” McHale wrote on Twitter Monday alongside an old video of the Rivera and Monteith signing autographs for fans. “These 2, in many ways, were the male and female versions of one another.”
He added that they were both “so nice, cared deeply, were stupidly talented, the most fun, and really really good people.”
The search for Rivera, 33, came to a grim end when she was confirmed dead by authorities at Lake Piru in Ventura County.
After speaking with Rivera’s 4-year-old son, Josey, who was found alone in a boat on Wednesday with his life jacket on, police said that he described how his mom “boosted him on to the deck from behind” after they swam in the lake together.
He told authorities that he “looked back and saw her disappear under the surface of the water.”
Monteith, who played quarterback Finn Hudson on the Fox series, died in 2013 from an accidental overdose following a battle with drug addiction. He was 31.
At the time, Rivera, who developed a close friendship with the actor behind the scenes, paid tribute to Monteith, who she said “was and always will be a part of my own family and a good friend.
“He was a special part of this world and will forever be missed,” she said.
In a separate tweet memorializing Rivera, McHale reflected on how the two leaned on each other in the wake of Monteith’s death, noting that they were both in London when the news broke.
“We were so far away, but I was so thankful that we had each other,” McHale wrote, adding that he and Rivera just last week “were talking about running away” to Hawaii. “This doesn’t make sense. And I know it probably never will.”
McHale called Rivera “the most talented person” he’s ever known, citing her ability to memorize lines in a flash and her professionalism on set.
“If you were fortunate enough to have known her, you’ll know that her most natural talent of all was being a mother,” he continued. “The way that she loved her boy, it was truly Naya at her most peaceful. I’m thankful that Naya got that beautiful little boy” back on the boat.