Arlyn “Heart” Phoenix is honoring late son River Phoenix’s birthday nearly 30 years after his death.
“August 23, 1970 [was] one of the most amazing days of my life bringing Earthbound a living being, truly a touch of the most sacred,” Arlyn, 78, wrote via Instagram on Wednesday, August 23. “Just as he tried to do with most people, River Jude embraced each of his siblings (who entered through the same portal after him) with his humor, wisdom, authenticity, talent, compassion, vulnerability and undying Love. I would say he was and still is our greatest teacher.”
She continued: “The greatest pain I experienced in my life was the pain of natural childbirth and even tho quite different, the pain of my son’s passing. But almost instantaneously on both occasions, the gifts that he brought were imbued in each of us and so we carry on celebrating his life for those 23 precious years.”
Arlyn — welcomed sons Joaquin and River and daughters Rain, Liberty and Summer with ex-husband John Lee Bottom — further noted that there are “no guarantees in life” but it is one of her “greatest blessings” to live in the moment and draw “upon inner knowing as a sacred pathway to navigate through life’s many challenges.”
“River’s life and death taught me that, in no uncertain terms. I am in awe of the fact that he is very much alive in me,” she concluded. “Thank you for all the precious messages that I have received through these past 30 years 💖🙏💖.”
River, who was the oldest of Arlyn and Bottom’s children, died of a drug overdose in October 1993 at the age of 23. The My Own Private Idaho star’s death occurred several days after Joaquin, now 48, turned 19.
Since River’s death, Joaquin has been outspoken about his older sibling’s legacy. “Through my brother and his understanding and appreciation of that kind of acting I think it just awakened something in me and I suddenly could see it through his eyes,” the Joker star said during a 60 Minutes interview in January 2020.
Joaquin and partner Rooney Mara even named their firstborn son in his late brother’s honor.
“He just got a baby, by the way … a beautiful son called River, so he cannot promote [Gunda] now,” Russian filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky said during a September 2020 appearance at the Zurich Film Festival, explaining why producer Joaquin was absent from the event.
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Nearly one year after baby River’s arrival, a source exclusively told Us Weekly that Joaquin and Mara, 38, had been embracing first-time parenthood. “River has enhanced their lives more than they’ve ever imagined and has brought them closer together,” the insider told Us in May 2021. “They’re a very private couple and want River to have a normal, healthy upbringing.”