The loss of a loved one completely turns your life upside down. It changes you as a person, a father, a friend… It changes how you see the world.
The grief can completely swallow you whole if you do not deal with it. Grief is not the only thing that comes with death – it can also be guilt. Guilt over not saying “I love you” more or your last conversation being a fight or even survivor guilt.
The short story “Let’s Go to the Videotape” from 2016 by Fiona Maazel deal with the aftermath of losing someone close to you through the characters Nick and his son Gus, who have lost Gus’ mother in a car accident.
The father-son relationship between Nick and Gus is not a simple one. The loss of Gus’ mother has both affected their relationship and themselves as individuals.
Nick says that Gus’ loss of blind faith in the world after the awful accident makes him “hard to parent” (P. 1, l. 5). This statement indicates that Nick has a hard time relating to his son.
For example, when Gus asks if the contest is a good idea because someone at school had called him a ‘tard’, which Nick just brushes off and thinks, “kids who wanted to harass his son would find a way, video or not”.
So, he fails to understand the gravity of the situation and does not even try to understand Gus. But Nick obviously loves his son, “He could not possibly love this boy any more than he did already.” (P. 2, ll. 100-101).
He also buys Gus presents and is involved in his school life, but it is clear that both Nick and Gus have trouble talking about their emotions, which affect their relationship.
Nick does not go out of his way to create a safe space for his son to open up, he does the exact opposite: “Anything happen today?” Nick said. He’d already looked Gus over and surmised nothing had happened, which was what gave him the courage to ask.” (P. 2, ll. 77-78).
Nick does not only avoid talking about his feelings, he also prevents Gus from talking about his. This behaviour led to Gus finding another way to let out his emotions and thoughts – through the video for his school assignment – most likely copying his father.
Nick was so shocked to find out, that Gus carried around this guilt because for him it was obvious that he was not to blame, but they never talked about it.
The ending is very displeasing, in the way that the problem, that is the lack of communication, is clear, but it is never solved.