In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert announced she has fallen in love with, and is committed to, her best friend Rayya Elias. The lengthy post explains that a diagnosis for Elias of pancreatic and liver cancer — “a disease for which there is no cure” — precipitated a reckoning for Gilbert with her own heart.
“Death — or the prospect of death — has a way of clearing away everything that is not real, and in that space of stark and utter realness, I was faced with this truth: I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya. And I have no more time for denying that truth.”
Earlier this year, Gilbert announced to her readers that her marriage to Jose Nunes, the Brazilian trader she had met in Indonesia in the course of her Eat, Pray, Love odyssey had come to an end. The memoir, published in 2006, sold more than 10 million copies and was made into a film, starring Julia Roberts as Gilbert and with Javier Bardem playing Nunes.
Gilbert said she posted the news of her relationship with writer and musician Elias publicly because “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. Truth and transparency not only make my life more ethical, but also easier.”
In a profile of the two women published last year in The Sydney Morning Herald, their dynamic was described as “a kind of intimacy only found in female friendships and, even then, not always.”
“It’s not your sister, it’s not your lover, it’s not your BFF,” said Gilbert. “There isn’t really an identifier for it.”
“I know it sounds like a love story and it totally is,” said Elias of the deep bond.
At the time of writing, more than 8,000 of Gilbert’s followers have commented on her Facebook post, overwhelmingly supportively.
Thank you for the love, everyone. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/rkCZVyIDwg
— Elizabeth Gilbert (@GilbertLiz) September 7, 2016