Elizabeth Gilbert considers herself a willing student of grief. She listens eagerly, openly, to what it has to teach her about itself.
They are lessons that the best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love has been working through for 10 months now, since she watched the love of her life, Rayya Elias, die from liver and pancreatic cancer.
In a post in Instagram, the 49-year-old shared perhaps the most fundamental of them all; “I cannot live without Rayya, so I don’t: I draw her near.”
To do so she dances, daily: “I say to Rayya: ‘You pick the song’, then I hit SHUFFLE, and I dance to whatever music she chooses. Sometimes it’s AC/DC, sometimes it’s Mozart. It’s always perfect.”
She writes: “I open my laptop and type the words: ‘I need you Rayya,’ then I allow my fingers to type her responses. She’s always right there to help me — just as wise & funny as ever.”
She speaks: “I discovered that the act of leaving her a ‘message’ on my phone makes me feel like I’m in communication with her. Something about the fact that the message is being recorded makes me feel like it’s being received. So I get to talk to her, laugh with her, cry with her.”
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Elizabeth knows it might not seem rational, but to her it’s all very real.
“I am unembarrassed to create my own healing. I will demand from Rayya, and from Spirit, whatever my heart needs,” she wrote.
“For anyone who is suffering loss, I encourage you: Be creative. Be INVENTIVE. Be strange. Demand union. Find ways.”
Elizabeth and Rayya’s love story.
Elizabeth and Rayya, a Syrian-born writer and musician, were friends long before they were partners. Best friends. But it was the terminal diagnosis in late 2016 that awoke the truth within the author – that this was something more, something great.
The news followed the revelation only two months earlier than Gilbert was leaving her partner of twelve years, Jose Nunes, who featured in her bestselling memoir Eat, Pray, Love.