In her compelling memoir Love & Loss – A Story About Life, Death and Rebirth, Jane Bay gives us a glimpse of the invisible web of connectedness between us and its power to help heal even the deepest of wounds. In sharing the loss of her Tibetan foster daughter, Namgyal Youdon, Bay offers a rare opportunity to travel through the agonizing process of grieving and experience the power and healing of unconditional love.
Love & Loss is something of a sequel to Bay’s first book Precious Jewels of Tibet– A Journey to the Roof of the World, in that this book begins where Precious Jewels ended. Namgyal was thirteen years old when Bay met her at the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala while traveling with a former monk from the Dalai Lama’s monastery to visit the sacred Buddhist sites in India. The following year, Namgyal was forced to return to Tibet by a directive issued by the Chinese Communist Government in Lhasa that required all children who were studying in India to return to the “motherland.” Failure to comply could lead to the parents losing their jobs, their homes and food ration cards, and possible imprisonment. Bay lost all contact with her daughter for three years. When she was reunited with Namgyal, Bay vowed they would never be separated again in this lifetime. She had no warning that Namgyal’s life would be cut short, just ten days before coming to the U.S. for the first time.
Love & Loss is a story about the bond that was forged between a motherless child and a childless mother, and the consequences of Namgyal’s life and death on the author’s life. It is played out in the rich fabric of the cultural history of Tibetan Buddhism inside Tibet, in India and America.
Love & Loss is written as an “Email Diary” about Bay’s relationship with her Tibetan daughter. It is based on emails she sent out immediately after Namgyal died, replies she received from her ‘Dear Friends,” emails from Namgyal’s brothers, one in Tibet and one in India, before and after Namgyal’s death, and emails that she and Namgyal exchanged during the last two years of Namgyal’s life. Bay has written brief narratives that are interwoven throughout the emails to complete the story.