I received an email from a woman in Cambodia a few days ago. She was a local woman living in Battambang, working at a non-profit organization. Last I remember, I was supposed to meet her the day of (or after) my accident. So, my curiosity suddenly piqued, I went looking for our last email exchange in early 2009. I retrieved and re-read it, and it sent chills through me. Here it is, dated January 25, 2009:
Ben just emailed me about you.
I’m in Battambang until tomorrow, when I leave on the 8:30 morning bus to Phnomh Penh. If you get this message in time, I’m staying at the Holiday Guesthouse in town (I’m in Rm 03). You can try to call me on my mobile if you have time to meet this evening or early tomorrow morning.
She replied the following day:
You are welcome to visit our office today anytime after lunch. I attached office map in case you have trouble finding it.
I then scoured my outbox for more emails from that day. I found this one I’d written to my friend Cathy:
I’m in Cambodia. I managed to shirk off a guy…after we got off the bus yesterday, booked into the same guesthouse and walked around town a bit. I slipped out early this morning, rented a bicycle, had a wonderful ride out in the countryside.. and now looking forward to the experience of Chinese New Year’s Eve in this midsize city (Battambang) – the firecrackers have already been going on all day!! Heading south to Phnomh Penh tomorrow AM.
And this email excerpt from my new Estonian friend, Lii, with whom I’d just traveled around Burma. She was relaxing on the beaches of Thailand:
How was Ankor Wat? did u do a week long temple tour 🙂
Have fun in phenom Phen and be careful with happy pizza toppings. they sell weed everywhere to everyone.
A host of other tidbits of life – and death – discovered among emails dated January 25th:
… Aldo, a longtime friend and employee of my father’s, had passed away.
… My itinerary was confirmed; regarding a series of flights I was scheduled to take for an upcoming family reunion.
… Tree, whom I’d met in Mongolia, was getting married back home in the US.
… My sister and brother-in-law were trying to deal with customer service (on my behalf) about my non-functioning Flip video camera.
And finally, an email I wrote to my sister. She was already dealing with a disheartening medical diagnosis – and we had no idea yet what was still to come this year:
Please keep me posted on your health – I don’t want to nag, but I want to know if something’s up. Better news for this year, I hope 🙂