Pluto is a horror villain, showing up like a bright-eyed psychopath who smiles and says nothing. He won’t leave. And you don’t know what he wants because he won’t tell you, but you can feel him watching you, like a creep, sniffing out whatever it is you don’t want to give up.
Pluto is that feeling of dread when you get the call that a loved one is in trouble. Don’t be dead, don’t be dead, please don’t be dead, you think over and over. They are. Not that. Anything but that. You were almost preparing for it by dreading it so furiously, and yet you have no idea what to do. You are felled. You are over.
Pluto says, “What’s in your hand?” You say, “Nothing, leave me alone.” But he doesn’t go anywhere. He stays for 30 years in a sign. He won’t leave.
“Give it to me,” he says.
“Take something else.”
“Open your hand.”
Nothing you can do. You don’t want to. Why should you have to? Who gave him the power? But he’s death itself, and death always had the power. Life cannot deny death, and we fall to the ground as he takes away the precious thing we cannot live without.
And then, after you’re catatonic on the floor, if you want, if you can, he will rebuild you so that you don’t need it anymore.
If he’s calling for you to give up a loved one, it’s tempting to refuse this great promise of rebirth. You’d rather keep your loved one, I think. Who are you anyway without your mother? Is it even worth being anyone without your husband or brother or best friend or whomever? People who have shaped you for years. Been your flesh and blood. You don’t want new flesh and blood. You want to die.
And you will die. In fact, you’re dying right now. Pluto knows the pain you’re feeling is so important. He’s sadistic, but the pain is so important. We cannot grow without it. It lets us feel the rot of what we must slough off. We have to degenerate in order to regenerate. Pluto has time. Pluto has the most time.
But life is worth it. And Pluto knows that. He will never not know it. You cannot be the god of death if you don’t love life, and Pluto loves life profoundly, in ways we, the living, do not and cannot fully understand.
Pluto doesn’t care about truth because he’s there to enforce facts. There it goes: the cancer diagnosis, the heartbeat of your mother, your enemy getting your award, someone stealing the diamond that has been in your family forever, your partner is truly done and wants to leave you. Everything you thought was core to your identity. But Pluto senses disease where we cannot see it. You’d rather die! — that’s your truth. It is true. But truth is the meaning we derive from living. It’s valid, essential, loving, and ours. But death isn’t a truth; it’s a fact. It doesn’t always mean the same thing, but it’s the ultimate immovable object. Pluto is heavy.