words and images by mk swanson


Mary K Swanson

Today, I am a year older. At least, today is when I admit that I am. November 1, I lost my alter ego, the cat I have been carrying with me for almost 20 years. I didn’t realize until I started to write this that when she died, I lost a little bit of what defined me.

She and her feline sisters have stood in for my feelings in my dreams. When I saw her in a dream, I knew I needed to look for the pure underlying emotion that was driving my actions, but that I had not yet accepted as part of myself.

But it’s important to remember that she was herself, first. She had a voice that could peel paint, loved Italian food, hated kisses, enjoyed playing in the sheets while the bed got made, had two color eyes, was white all over, loved to be chased, and to roll in the dirt.

She was a cat.


  1. I'm sorry, Mark K. I love how Portia was a sentinel for your as yet recognized motivations. I'm sure she will continue to appear in your dreams and maybe even demand pizza. Very nice picture of her.

  2. Dear MK–

    From our house to yours, our deepest sympathy. I'll miss Portia's demanding humor–What do you mean, you're reading Mom's tarot cards? I'M HERE!!–and her sweet white insistence.

    Jme, Jke, Brte

  3. I wish I could have a picture of Portia curled up with Jake. Wouldn't they have made the most perfect Yin/Yang symbol?

    Thanks to all of our feline friends for their sympathy.

  4. Our pets reflect back to us who we are just as much as the people in our lives.

    I've lost many pets over the years, but there is one I still see often in dreams and in cloud formations.

    Maybe one of your friends with photo shop could combine a photo of Portia and Jake.

    I only know Portia from her photo, but I can see she was special.

  5. Hey Mary Kay,

    I am so sorry about your loss. Roxie was with me for only twelve years and it still hurts after six weeks. I can't imagine the ache that comes with separation after twenty years.I know Portia is still around, you just can't see her in a waking state or feel the softness of her fur. That's what's tough.
    I think the capacity to love helps define us and what you have written has love beautifully subtly threaded between each word.

  6. I am so sorry to hear about Roxie. I don't think it's the length of years–sometimes it seems that one comes to you you can't let go easy. Maybe they give you something you can't access in yourself. I noticed this with people, too. I've been able to let go of some so much easier than others, even though I would say I love them equally. What is it about Portia I haven't been able to integrate or perhaps manifest in my life?

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