Earlier this summer Elizabeth Gilbert, the celebrated author of Eat, Pray, Love, announced that she was ending her relationship with Brazilian businessman José Nunes—called “Felipe” in the 2006 memoir.
Today she shared the reason why: She’d fallen in love with Syrian-born musician and filmmaker Rayya Elias, a woman who has been her best friend for 15 years. Elias was recently diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer and Gilbert wanted to share her journey “not only as her friend, but as her partner.”
“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,” Gilbert posted on Facebook.
“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.”
Gilbert wrote the introduction to Elias’ 2013 memoir, Harley Loco.
She chose to go public with the relationship and Elias’ diagnosis, she says, because she needed to live in truth “even more than I need privacy, or good publicity, or prudence, or other people’s approval or understanding, or just about anything else… It’s for the sake of our own integrity, but it’s also intended to make our lives simpler.”
She ended by asking 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.”