In July, author Elizabeth Gilbert announced that her relationship with Brazilian businessman José Nunes — he was called Felipe in the “love” part of her bestselling 2006 memoir "Eat, Pray, Love" — was coming to an end.
On Wednesday morning, Gilbert revealed the reason for the split: She has fallen in love with Rayya Elias, a woman who's been her best friend for years, and who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer.
"I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya," Gilbert wrote in a Facebook post. "And I have no more time for denying that truth. The thought of someday sitting in a hospital room with her, holding her hand and watching her slide away, without ever having let her [or myself!] know the extent of my true feelings for her...well, that thought was unthinkable."
Elias is a Syrian-born American musician and filmmaker, and author of the the 2013 memoir "Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk, from the Middle East to the Lower East Side," to which Gilbert wrote the introduction.
Gilbert confirmed that her relationship with Elias was the reason for her separation from Nunes.
"For those of you who are doing the math here, and who are wondering if this situation is why my marriage came to an end this spring, the simple answer is yes," she wrote. "Here is where we stand now: Rayya and I are together. I love her, and she loves me. I'm walking through this cancer journey with her, not only as her friend, but as her partner."
Gilbert and Elias have been friends for more than 15 years. The two were profiled last year by the Sydney Morning Herald, which described them as"clasping hands, finishing each other's sentences, Elias absentmindedly fixing Gilbert's hair" and displaying "a kind of intimacy only found in female friendships and, even then, not always."
Elias told the newspaper that her friends would often refer to Gilbert as her wife. "I know it sounds like a love story and it totally is,"she said.
In her Facebook post, Gilbert explained why she chose to go public with the news of her relationship with Elias.
"I need to live my life in truth and transparency, even more than I need privacy, or good publicity, or prudence, or other people's approval or understanding, or just about anything else," she wrote."So that is why Rayya and I have decided together to speak up publicly now — both about her cancer and about our love for each other. It's for the sake of our own integrity, but it's also intended to make our lives simpler."
Gilbert ended her post by asking her readers for love.
"Whatever extra love you might be carrying around in your hearts right now, could you direct some this way?" she wrote. "We will resonate with it, and we will thank you for it. Because truth is the force that guides us to where we need to be in life, but love is the power that heals us once we arrive there."
Below that is a picture of Gilbert and Elias together, smiling.