I recently found a box of old photos that I had packed away in hopes that it would someday serve as just the thing to get me started recording some of the family stories just beginning to surface from the depths of my unconscious mind. For a long time, I thought I had only a few memories. They were either really great, wonderful memories, like my love of waterskiing as a teen, flying across the surface of the water without a care in the world. Or they were just the opposite. Dark, painful ones like listening to my parents fighting in the backyard as I hid in my room. I remember thinking I heard my father throwing bricks at my mother.
Several things happened as I began going through the photos in this box. I started remembering things that I hadn’t thought of in years and since then memories seem to keep emerging like bats leaving their roost at dusk.
I found this photo of my mother holding my first-born brother and felt a deep connection that I have never felt before. Consciously I did know about this little brother of mine, born when I was probably 3 years old. But I don’t know very much about him, because he died shortly after he was born. My parents rarely spoke of him and I can only imagine the pain they must have felt at the time of his death. Try as I might I cannot bring anything to mind about his death. I remember him being there, a curiosity to me, my first sibling, but the old file cabinet in my mind reveals nothing more. My parents are gone now and all they have left behind of themselves are some of their possessions and the photos in the box. They were very private people, filled with deep pain. They kept to themselves the traumas of their own lives, believing that if things are not spoken of, the pain will disappear.
I do know this little brother died because of an Rh blood factor incompatibility between my parents. He was weak at birth and was given blood transfusions to correct the problem, but it didn’t work out. This child was named Thomas Zabski, Jr. after our father. When he died and my second brother was born several years later he was given that same name.
There is no birth or death certificate. I don’t know when his birthday might be. I don’t know when he died and I don’t recall ever going to a cemetery to visit his grave. It is as though he never existed even for the few days or hours he was a living being on this planet. I find that extremely sad and in writing this story would like to honor my faint memory of him and to let the world know that for a time, he was here. He was my brother. I remember him.