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Rayya Elias, the partner of Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, has died following a battle with cancer. Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer in spring 2016, according to People Magazine.
That same year, Gilbert announced that she and her husband, Jose Nunes, had split. She made the announcement in a Facebook post, letting her fans know that she and Nunes were going their separate ways amicably.
“I am separating from the man whom many of you know as ‘Felipe’ — the man whom I fell in love with at the end of the EAT PRAY LOVE journey. He has been my dear companion for over 12 years, and they have been wonderful years. Our split is very amicable. Our reasons are very personal,” she wrote in part.
Two months later, Gilbert took to Facebook again to share the news that she had fallen in love. She took the time to introduce her partner, Rayya Elias, to the world, and also revealed Elias’ cancer diagnosis.
“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,” read part of the lengthy post. Gilbert revealed that she cancelled everything on her schedule in order to be by Elias’ side during that challenging time. The post received over 29,000 “likes” and the comments left by Gilbert’s fans were warm and uplifting.
On Thursday, January 4, Gilbert took to social media once more, this time sharing the tragic news that Elias had passed away.
“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. I loved you so much, Rayya. Thank you for letting me walk with you right to the 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,” she wrote.
In June 2017, the couple celebrated their love in a non-legally binding ceremony.
Dear Ones: Over the last year, Rayya Elias and I have been through some really difficult days together — but not today. Today was precious and perfect. A simple and spontaneous ceremony of love, surrounded by a small handful of friends and family. Our ceremony was nothing legally binding (no need to alert the authorities, folks!)…just a quiet and private celebration of what we have long known to be true: We belong to each other. More difficult days are to come. It doesn’t get easier from here. Her illness is grave. But our love is strong. We will walk together as far as we can go together. After that, it all gets turned over to God. Create beauty with every day you are given, Onward, LG (And thank you, @bindleandkeep, for putting a rush on @rayyaelias’s suit, and for hand-delivering it yesterday. She looked beautiful. Thank you for the grace, the care, and the compassion. You are good people.)