River Phoenix's mom honors late son on his birthday: 'Our greatest teacher'

Arlyn "Heart" Phoenix is honoring her late son River Phoenix on what would've been his 53rd birthday.

The social activist penned a heartfelt tribute to the eldest of her five children on social media Wednesday, calling his birthday "one of the most amazing days of my life… bringing Earthbound a living being... truly a touch of the most sacred."

Alongside the post, Heart also shared an impromptu snapshot of River, who was a prolific guitar player and member of the band Aleka's Attic, looking off into the distance with the instrument strapped to his shoulder.

Heart — who is also mom to Summer, Liberty, Rain, and Joaquin Phoenix — noted that River had a strong bond with each of his younger siblings and imparted them all with "his humor, wisdom, authenticity, talent, compassion, vulnerability and undying Love." She added, "I would say he was and still is our greatest teacher."

She went on to describe the greatest pain she'd experienced as going through childbirth and "the pain of my son's passing." However, she continued, "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."

"There are no guarantees in life and I don't believe any of us were promised that we would not experience 'tragic moments,'" Heart wrote. "I count it one of the greatest blessings by living in the moment and drawing 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."

To this day, Heart wrote that "I am in awe of the fact that he is very much alive in me."

River's sister, Rain, who was also a member of Aleka's Attic, posted her own tribute on social media Wednesday. She shared a black and white photo of the My Own Private Idaho star as well as a snapshot of the pair as children alongside the caption: "Happy birthday River."

River died at 23 from a drug overdose outside the Viper Room in West Hollywood in 1993. Rain and brother Joaquin were both present.

In 2020, Joaquin and wife Rooney Mara welcomed a son they named River in honor of the actor's brother. Earlier that same year, Joaquin quoted his older brother's lyrics while accepting the Best Actor award at the Oscars for his performance in Joker. "Run to the rescue with love," he said, "and peace will follow."

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