In a message posted on her Facebook, Elizabeth shared the story how she and Rayya, author of Harley Loco and a filmmaker/musician got together and spoke about their close relationship. She began by saying that Rayya was suffering from pancreatic and liver cancer.
"There is something I wish to tell you today — something which I hope and trust you will receive with grace.
"This spring, I received news that would change my life forever. My best friend Rayya Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer — a disease for which there is no cure."
Elizabeth continued saying: "In the moment I first learned of Rayya's diagnosis, a trap door opened at the bottom of my heart (a trap door I didn't even know was there) and my entire existence fell straight through that door. From that moment forward, everything became about HER. I cancelled everything in my life that could be cancelled, and I went straight to her side, where I have been ever since.
"Many of you already know who Rayya Elias is to me. She's my best friend, yes, but it's always been bigger than that. She's my role model, my traveling companion, my most reliable source of light, my fortitude, my most trusted confidante. In short, she is my PERSON. I have spoken about her so many times on this page, and many of you have heard me speak about her in my speeches, too (such as my "Hummingbird" speech, where I sang her praises with all the love I could muster.) Some of you have even come to see the two of us speaking together on stage, over the years. Anyone who has ever seen us together knows that I am devoted to Rayya. I've never made a secret of it. As Ann Patchett said once of our friendship: "Your love for Rayya has always been writ large."
Elizabeth added that she began to realize that everything was becoming clear and that she needed to by Rayya's side.
"But something happened to my heart and mind in the days and weeks following Rayya's diagnosis. 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. 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.
"Here is the thing about truth: Once you see it, you cannot un-see it. So that truth, once it came to my heart's attention, could not be ignored."
Elizabeth said that she has learned much from Rayya in their friendship.
She also answered as to whether her relationship with Rayya played a role in her separation from husband Jose Nunes. (READ: Eat, Pray, Divorce. Best-selling author separates)
"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. (Please understand that I cannot say anything more about it than that. I trust you are all sensitive enough to understand how difficult this has been. As David Foster Wallace once wrote: "The truth will set you free — but not until it's had its way with you." Yes, it has been hard. Yes, the truth has had its way with us. And yes, the truth still stands.)
"So. 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. I am exactly where I need to be — the only place I can be.
"The reason I haven't yet spoken publicly about me and Rayya is because we (and our families) have needed this cocoon of privacy over these last few months, as we face all and process all these massive changes and challenges," she said.
Read her full statement here.
Following the announcement, Elizabeth posted a photo of her and Rayya on her Instagram with a short message.
"Thank you for the love today, everyone. Rayya and I are sitting here in tears and wonder and gratitude for the outpouring of grace from my post this morning on Facebook. Thank you, and all blessings," she wrote.
Thank you for the love today, everyone. Rayya and I are sitting here in tears and wonder and gratitude for the outpouring of grace from my post this morning on Facebook. Thank you, and all blessings. A photo posted by Elizabeth Gilbert (@elizabeth_gilbert_writer) on Sep 7, 2016 at 9:19am PDT
Elizabeth's book Eat, Pray, Love was adapted into a movie starring Julia Roberts. Elizabeth's latest book Big Magic was published last year. – Rappler.com