The best-selling author of Eat Pray Love imagined a world without Rayya in it. In that moment, she knew. She knew her marriage to José Nunes — which had been "working beautifully" to that point — was never going to work again.
"I pictured her dying without me ever telling her how much I loved her, and then having the rest of my life to know that the great love of my life had come and left from the earth without me telling her my feelings," Elizabeth told Mamamia's No Filter podcast.
"And that was an absolutely unacceptable vision."
Eliizbeth separated from Nunes in July 2016; the end of a 12-year relationship that 12 million people had read about in the 'love' segment of her 2006 memoir.
Two months later, Elizabeth announced her relationship with the Syrian-born author and musician via Facebook: "I do not merely love Rayya; I am in love with Rayya," she wrote. "And I have no more time for denying that truth."
Over the next year-and-a-half, Elizabeth walked by Rayya's side as her partner, her great love.
She was there for the moments of rage, the moments of tenderness and fear. She was there as the former heroin user's sobriety was felled by the opioids prescribed to dull the pain of the disease. But most of all, she was there in love; in its all-consuming majesty.
"She and I lived this huge lifetime together of the most beautiful, romantic story ever, followed by the most brutal, harrowing, awful romantic story... And then, at the end, just finding each other again in a very different sort of space," Elizabeth said.
"Both of us had been very sobered by that experience and very silent, respectful of death, respectful of one another. [We were in] a very tender and very beautiful space at the end."