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Elizabeth Gilbert shares powerful message about the importance of friendship

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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The Eat Pray Love author has posted an open letter of love and affection for her female friends on Instagram.

The past year has been one of great sorrow and reflection for Elizabeth Gilbert.

The bestselling author was by the side of her soulmate and best friend, Syrian author Rayya Elias, when she died of pancreatic and liver cancer on 5 January. “Thank you for letting me walk with you right to the edge of the river,” Gilbert wrote in a deeply personal Instagram tribute to her partner. “It has been the greatest honour 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.”

Since January, Gilbert has used her social media accounts to share with her hundreds of thousands of followers how she is coming to terms with life without her partner. One post detailed the memorial bench Elias requested Gilbert erect in her honour in their local park. Another shared Gilbert’s decision to record voice notes to Elias directly into her phone whenever she felt the need to speak to her. Another was a simple ode to the cheering powers of a rainbow.

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Today, Gilbert has turned to social media again, this time to write about the importance of female friendship both in the peaks and the troughs of her life.

“Last week I was feeling sick and sad, which can often happen in November in the Northeast of these United States,” Gilbert wrote. “So I got in my car with my dog and we drove to my friend Martha Beck’s house so that we could take refuge on her couch. As soon as I dropped my head into Martha’s lap, I started to heal.”

In the image, Gilbert is seen resting in her friend, the author Martha Beck’s, lap, wrapped in a blanket while her dog Chunky rests beside her. The image is one of familiarity and togetherness that speaks of the kind of intimate relationship that doesn’t require any words at all. 

“I love this photo because it reminds me that I’m lucky enough to have friends who will always take me in, no matter what my condition may be,” Gilbert noted. “I’ve bounced around the world so much, and lived in so many places, and changed my life so many times. Over the years, I’ve come to realise that ‘home’ is not a geographical place for me, but – more often – a person.” 

Over the past few weeks, Gilbert has been posting images of some of her closest friends to her Instagram. Recently, the author spent a few weeks in Europe and caught up with some of the people she became close with while living in Rome during the ‘Eat’ portion of Eat Pray Love.

People like Elizabeth, the woman who fed Gilbert her first stuffed zucchini flower in the early chapters of Eat Pray Love and “the famous” Giovanni, Gilbert’s handsome Italian language partner whom you might remember from the cheeky opening line of Eat Pray Love: “I wish Giovanni would kiss me.” 

“Oh, but there are so many reasons why this would be a terrible idea,” Gilbert went on to write in the first chapter of the book. “To begin with, Giovanni is ten years younger than I am, and — like most Italian guys in their twenties — he still lives with his mother. These facts alone make him an unlikely romantic partner for me, given that I am a professional American woman in my mid-thirties, who has just come through a failed marriage and a devastating, interminable divorce, followed immediately by a passionate love affair that ended in sickening heartbreak.” 

As she has been catching up with far flung pals recently, Gilbert seems to be in the moment when she wants to muse on the power of friendship in her life. 

“My friends are my home,” she noted in the Instagram post with Beck and her dog. “And thus I can honestly say: I have homes all over the world. I am deeply, heartbreakingly grateful… Love to you all.”

Gilbert’s right: when loved and nurtured and cared for, our friends are our homes. And how lucky are we all to have so many beautiful ones? 

Images: Getty

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