My dearest Sombath, today is 17 February, your birthday. This year is also the Year of the Tiger. Since you are also born in the Year of the Tiger, it means that you have reached your 6th cycle according to the Lunar calendar, therefore marking your 72nd year on earth.
Reaching the 6th cycle of your life is an especially auspicious occasion. If you are with us today, we would be celebrating this day with all your friends and family. Unfortunately you are not with us.
I know that you do not care much about celebrating birthdays or any other day in the calendar. But today is special. So I know you will allow us to fuss over you a bit. Unfortunately, you are not with us and we still don’t know where you are. However, regardless of where you are, I together with everyone in the family would be sending you our special wishes and prayers on this auspicious day. We are all praying and wishing that you will remain strong and healthy physically and emotionally, and wherever you are, you will be surrounded by people who would take good care of you.
Sombath, in my last letter to you on Christmas Day, I told you that I have finished and published a book about you called, “Silencing of a Laotian Son: the Life, Work and Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone”. You will be happy to know that many people have read the book and said that they got to know you more through the book. They also expressed anger at the injustice of your disappearance. They have sent me numerous messages of how much they look forward to see you safely returned home so they can get to know you more. I am sure many of them will also want to send you blessings for your birthday today.
Today, on your birthday, it pains me even more that you are not surrounded by those who love you and cherish you. I can only wish that your innate goodness and your strong spirituality will continue to be a source of strength to uphold you and help you remain emotionally and physically strong.
My dearest Sombath, you and I are getting older with each passing day. You and I can only hope that we can still see each other again soon. Meanwhile I know you and I are still communicating with each other in our thoughts and supporting each other through our mutual love that continues to burns unabated in our hearts. On days like today, I feel your presence even more strongly, just as I know you too will feel me by your side. Distance and physical absence cannot keep us apart.
Sombath, my love, I send you blessings for a very Happy Birthday today and everyday.