In a beautiful post shared on Facebook Tuesday, the 47-year-old writer ― who split from husband José Nunes just under a year ago ― announced that she and Elias had held a “simple and spontaneous ceremony of love” surrounded by close family and friends.
Gilbert wrote that the ceremony wasn’t “legally binding,” just a “private celebration of what we have long known to be true: We belong to each other.”
The ceremony’s timing had special significance; as Gilbert noted in the Facebook post, Elias ― a fellow writer and Gilbert’s long-time best friend ― has been battling pancreatic and liver cancer for the last few years:
“More difficult days are to come,” Gilbert wrote. “It doesn’t get easier from here. Rayya’s 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.”
Elias is a musician and the author of Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk From the Middle East to the Lower East Side.
In an equally moving Facebook post last September, Gilbert wrote that romance blossomed between the two women after Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer this past spring.
She also revealed that the intensity of her relationship with Elias played a part in the end of her marriage last spring.
“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,” Gilbert wrote.