'Eat, Pray, Love' Author Falls for Her Best Friend in New, Real-Life Love Story

elizabeth gilbert, rayya elias

If you were moved by Elizabeth Gilbert's thoughtful, honest prose in the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, then you should prepare to be emotionally devastated by the author's recent Facebook post. Gilbert, who split from her husband last spring, is in love -- but she's not in love with just anyone: Gilbert is in love with her best friend, Rayya Elias, who happens to be a woman ... and also happens to have liver and pancreatic cancer.


In her deeply personal post, Gilbert described her close relationship with Elias that's been going strong for some 15 years:

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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And, as one might expect when one's "person" is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, Gilbert's entire world changed in ways she never could have anticipated:

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.

We warned you this post was emotionally devastating! But so, so beautiful. It's clear that Gilbert has at last found the LOVE she's been so eloquently seeking for so long -- and that's the kind of love you hold on to no matter what, even if it means letting go of someone else (in Gilbert's case, her husband Jose -- yes, the "Felipe" she met at the end of Eat, Pray, Love):

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.

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What an incredibly challenging situation -- and yet, Gilbert certainly seems to be handling everything with grace. The post in its entirety is long, but so worth reading:

"Because I believe in love, I will ask for love."

Doesn't that just give you the chills? Gilbert didn't owe any of her fans an explanation about what happened to her marriage or a peek into the journey she and Elias have begun together, but it was so gracious of her to give us both anyway. Her words serve as a crucial reminder: If you love someone, don't wait. That person might not be around forever.

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The reaction Gilbert has gotten thus far from the world at large is pretty inspiring, too -- ask for love, and you shall receive. Her Instagram post thanking fans for their support (and the accompanying pic) is just about the sweetest thing ever:

Here's hoping that all the love Gilbert and Elias have together and all the love that the world is sending them now will help Elias to get well and strong soon, because this is most definitely a story that deserves many, many more chapters to come.


Image via elizabeth_gilbert_writer/Instagram

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