My dearest Sombath
Today is Valentine’s Day. Lots of people are showing their love by sending red roses and candies to their loved ones.
I recalled one Valentine Day many years ago, I asked you why I did not get any roses from you. You smiled and said “Why would I just give you roses on one day to show my love for you. Don’t you see, I have planted ‘Star Flowers” for you and when it blooms you will see a constellation of stars like my love for you”.
Today, the Star Flowers you planted are again blooming, and it made me reflect once more on your wisdom and on what really counts. For you whatever you do, you do with intention which is never shallow or just to please. Very often in the past, I had wished your were not so bloody pragmatic and practical, but now that you are not here with me, I understand that all you did for me, for our family, and for others, you did them with thoughtful intention and loving kindness.
Today, on Valentine’s Day, I also reflect on the origins of Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is the day which supposedly marked the death of St Valentine who was executed for his faith. The shedding of his blood for his belief became the mark of ultimate love – hence the giving of red roses to one’s loved ones.
Reflecting on the origin of Valentine’s Day also made me think about the meaning of sacrifice and love. You made a lot of sacrifices for what believed in and what you did steadfastly all your life – which is to share your knowledge, skills and experience with your fellow Lao, especially those in poor communities. You urged your Lao fellow citizens, and especially the young, to think critically and use their education and knowledge and adapt such knowledge and skills appropriately to improve their lives.
Sombath truly believes that there is much indigenous knowledge and local wisdom that we can draw upon instead of depending solely on external support and ideas. To prove it you demonstrated through practical examples in many communities on how applying local knowledge and appropriate technologies can improve their livelihoods. Your work and your ideas on sustainable education and development is likened to the Star Flower you have planted for me – they have continued to bloom and flourish like a constellation of stars that brighten the Lao community landscape.
Today, when I look at the star flowers in the garden and recall your love and the care you have shared with me and with so many of your fellow Lao over the many years, I feel a warm glow of love sustaining me during this Valentine Day, and for the days to come.
Sombath, my dearest, you are indeed my special Valentine, and I believe you are also in so many ways a true Valentine for the many people whose lives and hearts you have touched. You and your work are like the shower of star flowers you have planted will remain forever like the constellation of stars in our universe.
Happy Valentine, my love.