Last September, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert announced on Facebook that she and her best friend, Rayya Elias, had fallen in love. And this Tuesday she posted a beautiful photo of the two of them from what she called a "Ceremony of Love" that depicts the deep bond she has with her friend of 15 years, who has been battling cancer of the pancreas and liver since before they went public with their relationship.
While Gilbert and Elias did not officially tie the knot at their ceremony, Gilbert explained the inspiration for it in her Instagram post:
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...
Prior to announcing that she and Elias were in a relationship, Gilbert was married to Brazilian businessman Jose Nunes. Gilbert was forthcoming in her Facebook post that her relationship with Elias precipitated her divorce from her husband.
"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," Gilbert wrote last fall. "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."
Elias is a Syrian-born musician and filmmaker and the author of the memoir Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post Punk, From the Middle East to the Lower East Side, for which Gilbert wrote the introduction in 2013.