I am sorry to announce that 2018 has claimed a beloved writer and musician. Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert's partner, Rayya Elias, has died of cancer, and Gilbert posted the most beautiful tribute to the Harley Loco author's memory. Elias was 57 years old at the time of her death, and will, per the wishes of her devoted partner, "rest in excitement."
The two writers coupled shortly after Elias was diagnosed with cancers of the pancreas and liver in Spring 2016. In a Facebook post from September of that year, Gilbert wrote that, "[i]n the moment I first learned of Rayya's diagnosis, a trap door opened at the bottom of my heart (a trap door I didn't even know was there) and my entire existence fell straight through that door." The Big Magic author went on to say that the discovery of her true feelings for Elias, who was at the time her best friend of 15 years, led to the dissolution of her marriage to Jose Nunes, A.K.A. "Felipe" from Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert and Elias were joined in a commitment ceremony on June 6, 2017, as announced in an Instagram post from Gilbert, who observed: "More difficult days are to come. It doesn't get easier from here. Her illness is grave."
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.
Rayya Elias was the author of Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair and Post-Punk from the Middle East to the Lower East Side, which recounted her childhood as the daughter of a Turkish, war-profiteering, Orthodox Christian father in Syria, her family's immigration to Detroit during the 1960s race riots, her days as a hair-cutting, punk-rock musician in New York City, and her drug-fueled spells in New York City's bullpens, psychiatric hospitals, and streets.