The Untimely Death Certificate - A Challenge Poem

The Untimely Death Certificate


The untimely death certificate says 14 years old.


The untimely death certificate says you should have known.


The untimely death certificate comes with a tape of security footage from the day it happened.


November 21st, 2017.


It shows you waking up late, around 1:00. “Ah, good morning sunshine.” You give him a kiss on the head as he stretches out his little legs. Scratch under his chin, behind his ears. “Today is going to be a good day.”


It wasn’t.


The camera follows you outside, to your car. You drive to the administrative building where you pick up your gift card. “Hello!” “Yes hi, how are you?” “I’m good, thanks for asking.”  $70 to spend on food for the week, this will hold you over until you get your paycheck.


Next, you go to the new liquor store and browse, taking your time and sampling wines. SAMPLING WINES! You’ve never done that in your life! Finally settling on a Roscato you happily pay and head back home.


That thrill of adulthood comes with a hidden price.


Park the car, go inside. Walking down the hallway towards your room, you hear him. Yowling so loud, you rush to open the door. He must have missed you. “I’m ho-OH MY GOD!”


The untimely death certificate says maybe if you hadn’t gone out you would have been there to stop it.


Sheer and utter panic takes over your entire body. Sweat beads form on your forehead, your hands start shaking, all you can hear is someone shouting “NO. NO PLEASE.” Oh, that was you.


He’s panting on the floor, maybe he’s hot? You pick him up and start to cry because his hind legs don’t kick onto your arm like they usually do. They are limp, lifeless, cold.  His front claws dig into your arm, leaving angry red marks that scream “HELP ME.”


The untimely death certificate says surprise!


Your phone starts ringing, it’s your boyfriend who’s not your boyfriend. But he’s basically your boyfriend. “NOT NOW!” You send him to voicemail.


Next you call the nearest vet and they have to ask you to slow down. Breathe. Repeat. “I’m sorry we’re too busy today. Please call North Country Veterinarian. I’m sorry.” THEY answer and tell you to come in. “We’ll see what we can do to help your little guy.” A glimmer of hope. Her voice was so nice, she sounded concerned. “Drive safe, don’t rush to get here, okay?”


You said okay but you didn’t mean it.


You gently pick him up again and try to place him in the cat carrier. His front paws hold onto you for dear life. “Stop it, honey I’m sorry we have to go. LET GO OF ME WE HAVE TO GO.” Coat, keys, purse, phone.


Your phone is ringing, it’s him again. You answer, “now is not a good time.” “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” You explain what’s happening and he insists on picking you up. “No, I’m already in the car.” You hang up, no more time for him. Your one true love is crying in the seat next to you.


Driving was difficult, to say the least. Your tears blurred your vision and apparently today was the day that everyone forgot how to drive. Your windows are rolled down because it’s so hot, you’re so sweaty. “MOVE OUT OF THE WAY! THE SPEED LIMIT IS 40 NOT 25!”


They turned down a side street, I think they heard you.


“You’re not going to die today, do you hear me? NO. We have so much more to do. We have to take family Christmas photos, and I bought you a sombrero for next year. Remember? I’m going to throw you a Quinceanero. It’s going to be hilarious!”


Maybe life thought it would be funnier to take him from you.


As you pull up to the vet you tell him once again that he will not die today. “You are not allowed to leave me. I need you. I love you, and we’re going to go home together.” You park the car and another glides into the spot next to you. It’s your not-boyfriend. He found you - he always does.


You couldn’t stop crying, especially not when it was just the two of you alone in that hospital room. Just staring at each other. Time seemed to pass slowly in that moment but now you don’t think it was enough. You always wish you had more time, you thought you had more time. He reached out to you once more, before his whole body went limp. His head resting in your hand. He slept like that so often that you felt as if, for a moment, that you were not in that hospital room. You were at home, instead.


He was gone, and it was time to go but you couldn’t tear your eyes off of him. He’s just sleeping… it’s like every time you had to go somewhere and you told him “I’ll be back sweetheart I love you.”  Now he’s waiting for you by that stupid fucking rainbow bridge.


You look at the doctor, then at your not-boyfriend. Was he in there with you the whole time? They are staring at you with a pitiful gaze so sharp that it pricks a hole in your heart. “Goodbye baby boy.” You kiss him one last time and walk out the door.


The untimely death certificate has a price tag. $300 - euthanasia, cremation, paw print, wellness check. WELLNESS CHECK! OH fucking wonderful you charged me for a WELLNESS CHECK YEAH HOW IS HE DOING NOW?


The untimely death certificate is written on the back of a paper that says world’s best mom.


The untimely death certificate says his death was by your hand.


The untimely death certificate continuously gives you a wrist full of paper cuts.  


Funny thing about paper cuts - they disappear after a while, and you forget about them. One small mishap, perhaps a drop of hand sanitizer, will make you relive the sting.


Like the tears squeezing their way through my eyelids, clenched in defiance -


it still stings.




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