Best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert announced today that her partner, Rayya Elias, died. In a moving tribute posted on social media, Gilbert shared the heartbreaking news. Rayya Elias’ cancer diagnosis came in 2016 along with Gilbert’s revelation that she was in love with her best friend. Who was Rayya Elias? Keep reading to know everything about her.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the successful memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, lost her best friend and partner, Rayya Elias. She was 57 years old.
It was during Rayya Elias’ illness that Gilbert realized her feelings, and she stuck by her partner throughout her battle. Elizabeth Gilbert’s partner has left a lasting legacy, and we have more about her in Rayya Elias’ wiki.
From the Middle East to Michigan
Rayya Elias is from war-ravaged Aleppo, Syria. Her family fled the country in 1968 and moved to America when Elias was eight years old. They started a new life in Warren, Michigan.
Elias learned to speak English and went on to attend community college for two years. She had a passion for fashion, hairstyling, and music, and was a big part of the Detroit club post-punk scene.
Her move to New York in 1983 brought amazing opportunities for music collaborations. She started the band, Ancient Beats, with Kory Clarke and performed in some NYC clubs.
Elias was also a talented hairstylist. She attended beauty school in New York and worked for big fashion brands like Armani.
Living a Hard Life
Elias celebrated her passion for music but was once embroiled in the seedy world of drug addiction. In her website’s bio, she revealed that she spent time in jail and even faced homelessness.
However, Elias found her way back through composing more music, writing, and directing a couple of short films. She also released the book, HarleyLoco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post Punk, from the Middle East to the Lower East Side.
Relationship with Elizabeth Gilbert
Elizabeth Gilbert and Rayya Elias met when Gilbert went to get her hair done. The two soon became close friends.
Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer in early 2016. A few months later, Gilbert declared her love for her longtime friend in a lengthy Facebook post:
“In 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. From that moment forward, everything became about HER. I canceled everything in my life that could be canceled, and I went straight to her side, where I have been ever since.”
Gilbert went on to write about her feeling for Elias and said, “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.”
Elizabeth Gilbert and Rayya Elias celebrated their love in a simple ceremony last summer.
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.)
In Loving Memory
Elizabeth Gilbert shared the painful news of her partner’s death and focused on the beautiful person that Elias was.
Gilbert posted a picture of her smiling partner playing the guitar with a caption that read, “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,” Gilbert added.
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.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Rayya Elias’ friends and family as they mourn her loss. May she rest in peace.