My Dad passed away seven months ago and today is his birthday. Normally I would call him, and he would say, “Hi Sonni, how’s my little girl?” It’s still hard to believe there will be no call. Often, my brain can’t wrap itself around the idea, as though my Dad is golfing somewhere in Kamloops and waiting for me to come for a visit. I wish I had visited more. It was within weeks of his death that I knew I needed to do something sacred – something amazing – on July 9. I needed to feel close to him. Machu Picchu’s crisp altitude and spiritual majesty seemed just to fit. And really, this whole trip has been about him, in one way or another. I’m searching for a life that doesn’t include him in the centre of it. An afterlife of my own. Canyoning down a waterfall; swimming with turtles; these are my first afterlife memories, and that’s exactly the way he wanted it. Unfathomably, I’m grateful yet. My Dad made me the person I am today, and even in death still guides me to make better decisions, to live generously in the present, and to grasp every opportunity before it passes by. The dull ache of missing him is persistent, but I’m even somehow thankful for the experience of losing him; because, it’s given me a confident sense of clarity and conviction. Papito, I miss you. I love you. I am going to live a life that you would be proud of, for both of us. Today is for you, Jesus Perez, the greatest person I’ve ever known. Happy birthday from Machu Picchu. xo. -S.