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Gilbert posted a touching message to her social media regarding Elias’s passing. It is every bit as touching and moving as you would expect from a writer such as Gilbert:
“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 and Elias were close friends for 15 years. But when Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer in the spring of 2016, Gilbert says that it ignited something within her and she realized she was in love. In a 2016 Facebook post about her beloved’s cancer diagnosis, Gilbert wrote:
“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 cancelled everything in my life that could be cancelled, and I went straight to her side, where I have been ever since.”
Throughout Elias’ struggle, Gilbert stayed by her side, and the pair never let Elias’ illness prevent them from celebrating their love. In June 2017, the couple held a commitment ceremony in which they gathered with family and friends to affirm their love for one another and their partnership as lovers and friends.
Elias was talented force in her own right and detailed her life story in a moving memoir, “Harley Loco: A Memoir of Hard Living, Hair, and Post-Punk From the Middle East to the Lower East Side.” Born in Syria, she moved to the United States as a child without knowing a word of English and was bullied by other kids. She moved to New York City’s Lower East Side during the 1980s and struggled with drug addiction, homelessness and jail.
Elias found happiness later in life as an author, hairdresser, and a musician. You can listen to Elias’s incredibly moving song “Happy Home” here, whose lyrics were written by Gilbert.
Our thoughts are with Gilbert, and everyone who knew and loved Elias, during this difficult time.