"I will always love you." Elizabeth Gilbert's partner Rayya Elias has died.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s partner, Rayya Elias, has died of pancreatic and liver cancer.

“She was my love, my heart, my best friend, my teacher, my rebel, my angel, my protector, my challenger, my partner, my muse, my wizard, my surprise, my gift, my comet, my liberator, my rock star, my completely impossible non-cooperator, my otherworldly visitor, my spiritual portal, and my baby,” wrote Gilbert.

“I loved you so much, Rayya. Thank you for letting me walk with you right to edge of the river. It has been the greatest honor of my life. I would tell you to rest in peace, but I know that you always found peace boring. May you rest in excitement. I will always love you.”


It was Rayya’s diagnosis with the terminal illness in late 2016 that prompted Elizabeth to reveal that the pair were more than friends, revealing on her public Facebook page that she was in love with her long-time best friend.

“Many of you already know who Rayya Elias is to me,” she began the heartfelt post.

“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.

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“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.”

“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 news followed the revelation only two months earlier than Gilbert was leaving her partner of twelve years, Jose Nunes, who featured in Elizabeth’s bestselling novel Eat, Pray, Love.

“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.”


At the time, Elizabeth promised to stay by her lover’s side as they walked through Elias’s “cancer journey” together.

As Rayya’s condition worsened, Elizabeth reached out to her Facebook followers for support, asking them to spare some prayers for Rayya. She chronicled their final months and weeks with heartfelt words and raw photos.

My heart. My phoenix. ❤️

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Then on New Year’s Eve, Elizabeth shared what would be the last photo of the couple, with the caption, “Happy New Year everyone. You made it. We made it. Blessed be.”

Happy New Year, everyone. You made it. We made it. Blessed be. #2018

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