The actress said the loss of her cousin, Vaneza Ines Vasquez, allowed her to reconnect with family members she had previously fallen out of touch with.
“I’ve been dealing with a lot of loss lately and reconnecting with my family and my friends in a different way. I’m realizing how much I’ve pulled myself back, and I’ve been just really humbled by this opportunity tonight,” Dawson, 38, said while promoting the Lower East Side Girls Club on AOL’s Build series in New York City on Wednesday.
“My cousin just died, Vaneza, and I’m coming up on the six-year anniversary of my grandmother’s passing,” she said as she fought back tears. “And from 75 to 26, you just don’t know when your time is. I just don’t want to be in any kind of position where I’m looking back going, ‘Ah, I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve, didn’t, damn!’ ”
Dawson discovered her cousin dead inside her Venice, California, home on May 11.
She said Vasquez’s unexpected death gave her a new outlook on life and made her realize the importance of never taking “anything for granted.”
“Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and you want to make sure the people that you love know that, and that you’re doing things with your time that you’re proud of, because it goes by so fast,” she said. “I’m challenging myself now, still. I want to go back to school. I want to keep growing. I want to keep learning. I want to be a better person. I want to manage my time better. I want to be more organized,” she said. “I don’t want to be lazy. I don’t want to take anything for granted.”
After discovering Vasquez unconscious, Dawson reportedly called the paramedics, but they were unable to revive her on the scene. Vasquez was transported to the hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
A toxicology report is still pending and the autopsy has been deferred, according to Chief Coroner Ed Winter, who said it’s too soon to say whether she died of natural causes. Vasquez had been suffering from migraines and hypertension.