ForeverMissed
Stories

Share a special moment from Phillip's life.

Pierwsze spotkanie, wakacje 2003

Shared by Agnieszka Augustyn on July 22, 2021
Miał rok i 8 miesięcy, kiedy spotkaliśmy się pierwszy raz.
Był ślicznym, wesołym i otwartym na świat chłopcem . Zakochałam się w nim od pierwszego wejrzenia. 
Kilka historii chciałabym tu opisać i wracać do nich.

Shared by Agnieszka Augustyn on July 2, 2021
Moje serce pękło...już nigdy nie będzie sklejone...tak,  jak wiele innych serc.
Chce opowiedzieć tutaj o każdym naszym spotkaniu, o każdej jego podróży do Pl. Chce zachować w pamięci, w sercu,wszystkie te chwile. One nigdy nie znikną...ale jeśli je zapisze będę miała pewność, ze czas nie zatrze ich ostrości.
Jest dla mnie kimś znacznie ważniejszym niż siostrzeńcem”...jest moim synkiem”

How's your homework situation looking for today?

Shared by Matt Zukowski on June 12, 2021
I asked Phillip in the middle of the day, May 9th 2017. The Rangers were on the verge of being knocked out of the playoffs. It was the second round, game 6. I saw there were some great last minute deals on tickets and thought... what the heck? How often are we going to get a chance to go see them in the playoffs?

Phillip finally got back to me, but at 5:43 (game was at 7). I had planned on just buying the tickets for the two of us if he didn't reply and straight up telling him we're going (as opposed to asking). He had been in a tennis match and just said `nah, still waiting for the e train, why?` when I asked him if he was home yet. I asked if he wanted to go see the Rangers game with me.

`I mean if mom says yeah, then hell yeah`. He was stoked.

We got the parents situation sorted out and Phillip was on his way to Penn Station to meet me.

From my end:
`Sorry if I keep you waiting for a tiny bit, I'm trying to get us some cool seats. Some great deals popping up! I almost got us rinkside tickets.` I kind of wish I had gotten them now (regardless of price), but I think the place where we sat was still amazing, it was around the 6th row in section 117. Dead center ice, behind the penalty box.

Phillip got a teensy bit lost in Penn Station and I had to guide him via landmarks - shake shack and starbucks - until we met up at the escalators. We were off on our way.

I remember he had really wide eyes when we sat down. We chatted about how ridiculously cool this was. I remember we had an amazing time together, but only one thing really sticks out to me that we talked about. After the first period, we were down 0-2. We started losing a bit of hope and instead of hoping for a win, we hoped they would score at least one goal so that we could stand up and cheer. They were honestly pretty horrible this game, but we got out wish halfway through the second period when Zibanejad scored (we would actually get to cheer a second time when Kreider scored to make it 3-2 in the third).

Our exchange the next day:

Phillip: `Thanks again, now that I've had a moment to chill a bit I realized how amazing of an experience it really was so thank you!`
Me: `Absolutely dude, glad we were able to share that awesome night! It's too bad the outcome wasn't different, but I still had a blast.`
Phillip: `Yeah, the atmosphere was really something special, there will be more cup runs to cheer about soon enough, can't win them all right.`

The Rangers haven't had any more playoff appearances since - the very last playoff game he could go to, he did. Phillip did get to witness us winning the lottery (twice) and getting the first and second overall picks, though.

I have another story I need to write up about us going to draft night when we had the 9th overall pick, as well as some other random games I took us to. I wish I had some pictures of at these games together, but I only have photos he and I took of the games themselves. Mom always chided me for not taking pictures together at them.

Two weeks with the ball of fluff

Shared by Matt Zukowski on June 12, 2021
Half steak, half chicken, corn, peppers, lettuce, chips, hot sauce on the side, cheese and guac. Phillip's dos toros order I'd get him if we were both going to have it.

It's what I got for us right before I went off to Tanzania and Phillip had has uber long stay for two weeks at my apartment to watch Remus. Since it was longer, I left him a set of instructions just in case he forgot anything. I know I asked him if he wanted to come a bit early so he could eat with us before we left and at first he didn't want to - "don't wanna be a bother if you're organizing to leave" - but I insisted and he came.

I asked for a check-in from him so he sent me one in the middle.
`I hope you're having an amazing trip so far! I know you wanted a check in, so I decided to do it now hopefully it reaches you now. There's been absolutely nothing wrong so far, he has his daily naps and play time. Only thing that sucks is that it's been flash floods all week so not many walkies but the floof ball is happy and healthy!`

He, totally unprompted, at the end wrote us a full update to greet us at the end.
`I’ll start with the most important thing which is that Remus is more than fine, he got as many hugs and as much love as I could possibly have given him. I’m going to miss that ball of joy more than anything. I didn’t notice anything wrong with him, although he was pretty bad about grabbing his poop even when I was giving him the pills. The only thing that I could was try to bait him out with a treat and grab it from under the couch before he ate it. I didn’t give him a bath cause I didn’t want to mess something up so he definitely needs one when you get back. If you also take a look at the base of his right paw and armpit he has some colors from his experience with his home Holi festival. He got into your paints somehow while I was taking a shower, I still haven’t figured out how he pulled it off. Other than that there was nothing special with Remus which is a good thing.

The two weeks went by so fast, sadly I was sick for a week of it probably from the kids at work. on the last Saturday I had Remus on my lap while on your PC, and he stepped on the keyboard, and it just started freaking out. Like pressing t or something just opened a new tab it just went like haywire, so I just unplugged it and am going to leave it for you to see what happened. I got scared and if I screwed it up I am super sorry! I wanted to open it and see if something happened inside but you didn’t have a tiny screwdriver so I went and got one but I didn’t open it so I will just leave it on your desk. Again I have no clue what happened but if I screwed it up then I am so so sorry.

I know you guys are coming home super late and I went out to Dos Toros on the last day so in the fridge there’s a bowl with each of your names on it. I got you the steak and standard things and got Tess the vegan options, sorry if I got your order wrong but I thought you guys might be hungry. I had cereal so I left that too and there’s plenty of milk in the fridge for you for Monday morning so you can get settled. I took off my sheets and put them in the blue hamper along with my towel, and if I can find your sheets I will put new ones on the bed. So if there’s sheets on the bed they are new! Remus is fed and will be in his pen definitely excited to see you! I watered all the plants today so you have nothing to worry about with them for a while. I left the roomba on I cleaned the place up to the best of my ability. The dishwasher I turned on just before I left so that will have to be emptied but I hand washed a few plates and silverware so you have something to use. I hope your trip was amazing, let me know that everything is ok when you get back I will be up for sure but you can just let me know on Monday if anything I just wanna make sure I didn’t screw anything up too badly. I will see you on Tuesday, and send you my Questbridge stuff in the next few days which you can do whenever that’s not really that important!

I had a great time with your ball of fluff, I hope I did alright and didn’t mess anything up. I hope your trip was fantastic!`

Looking back, I wish I had done more to assure him he was an amazing dogsitter. He clearly worried about messing up and he was the dogsitter I absolutely trusted to a fault so maybe it didn't come across. The picture is one of many that Phillip took while dogsitting. He always liked to take pictures with Remus and a part of him together; maybe him petting Remus, so his hand would be in it. In this case, Remus just wanted to sit on Phillip's lap - `He usually scratches my leg until I put him on my lap when playing a game`. 

He was incredibly thoughtful. Since we were coming in late and the doorman had left for the night (he usually left the keys with the doorman), he called our mom and together decided to take the keys with him in case I lost my luggage. This way, if an emergency came up, Remus was always accessible. Honestly, his tenderness and care just comes across in the note so well. Who thinks to order food for someone like that? Ridiculously thoughtful.

I'll just finish this slightly-less-coherent story with my text reply to him after I had read the message he left me.

`The update was so sweet! I'm sure the keyboard is fine haha don't worry :) you're really the best in the world. You did an absolutely amazing job and thank you so so much.`

Thank you Phillip. You'll always be the best.

The best dogsitter you could ask for

Shared by Matt Zukowski on May 31, 2021
I was watching this video when a funny story came to my mind about one of the times Phillip dogsat Remus for me. It's one of those interesting, but emblematic stories. It reminds me of how much I relied on him and the wholeheartedness of my trust. Especially when Remus was young, I really didn't trust him with very many people. Remus isn't the sort of dog who easily gives his affection, but you can really see how much he loved Phillip in this clip. He was ridiculously excited when he came in. He still had to be in his pen when we weren't around because he would destroy the apartment (puppy phase).

For this memory, I was in Nashville with Tess and Phillip had come over just for the one night - we left on Saturday morning and were going to come back Sunday evening. This was in November 2018 - about a week or so before Phillip's 17th birthday. 

Phillip loved hanging with Remus so he never thought of taking care of him as a chore, but I always tried to make sure he felt like his time was valuable to me - sometimes some spending cash, but I'd always leave one of my credit cards for Phillip to go out and have a bit of fun, whether it was some food in the area or a movie or whatever. I'd usually line up some game I liked on my computer, too, and encourage him to play it.

While Tess and I were wandering Nashville, we got our usual updates from Phillip. He'd always send us photos of Remus (he'd always refer to him as `the pup`) and soothe our neurotic brains to let us know he was okay. A few hours after our first update, Phillip sends us a question (and I'm paraphrasing, not quoting!) `Hey, I'm sure it's nothing but Remus' nose looks a little off. I wonder if he's allergic to something?`. I remember Tess and I looking at each other in confusion. We were at the Nashville Predators game at the time and it was somewhere in the middle of the second period - I think they were playing Edmonton and I was interested in seeing Connor McDavid live so we got tickets on a whim. I texted Phillip back and asked to see pictures. He sent us back photos of Remus' face and oh my goodness; Tess and I almost laughed because Phillip had made it seem like there was maybe a teensy bit of swelling.

Nope. One side of his face was absolutely inflated and he did NOT look even remotely close to okay. I immediately panic a bit and walk out into the corridor to call Phillip. The reception was absolutely horrible and the fact that it was a very loud sporting event didn't make things easier. I called Phillip and told him he'll have to take Remus to the vet. I remember he sounded a bit scared on the phone, but resolute, also. I knew he could do this and he was steeling himself to do so as well. Our vet was thankfully only a few blocks away, but it was something like 3:50 in the afternoon and when I looked up their hours, I saw they closed at 4. I immediately told Phillip to just try and get there as quickly as possible, but in the meantime called the vet to see if they could squeeze us in. They basically told us that yes, but that we had to arrive before 4 as they would lock the doors then.

Phillip was an absolute trooper. He picked Remus up and literally ran him over to the vet. He was still out of breath when he called me again and said that he got there in time and that the vet was taking care of him. The outpouring of gratitude and relief I had in that moment is pretty indescribable. I'm not sure anyone could ask for more from their 16 year old brother.

Remus ended up totally fine, thanks to Phillip (and the vet). He got some Benadryl and Phillip sent us updates about how much his nose was getting better.

There are some silly stories I remember from Phillips' dogsitting adventures. There was one time Remus had stomach troubles and pooped all over our floor. Phillip did his absolute darndest to clean it up (bless him), but we definitely needed a second cleaning. The only time I was ever really reminded that he was still just a kid and not a professional dog & house sitter was when I looked at the dishes and utensils he used and tried to clean for when I got home. I'm sure he thought they were clean, but it always made me laugh when I saw them. He always tried so hard. I never really had the heart to tell him.

This is the story that sticks out the most in my memory, though. It perfectly shows why I could put all of my trust into him and how he never really let me down - believe me, I tried to think of examples and couldn't find any. I hope I told him that often enough that it sunk in.

Thank you Phillip, for being the world's best dogsitter. For loving Remus the way you did. For never disappointing me.

The next little bit has nothing about the story itself, it's just something I want to get out for my future self.

The thing that acutely sticks out to me whenever I remember these dogsitting stories is that I was always on some trip with friends, with Tess or just by myself. Phillip enabled me to go on these adventures, but I didn't have him with me. I didn't share that magic with him until later. I didn't really travel with Phillip until we went to Italy the summer before he went to college. I'm eternally thankful we had that amazing trip together. It was honestly the perfect place to travel with him. It was different, but not so different that it was jarring for him. He was all about creature comforts. He experienced a world that was different, yet not too far from the familiar. The food - I mean, he was picky, but who can say no to bread, cheese, tomatoes, basil and wine? I think of all the places I could've taken him and know Italy was the perfect choice.

We were supposed to take a family trip down to Cancun last spring (March 2020) that I got our family for Christmas, but the world had different plans as COVID cancelled our trip. That made me sad at the time, but the world was in so much disarray that it was almost an afterthought. I think in retrospect I would have risked it for the extra memories. I wish we had even a couple of more years of normal, post-pandemic life together. I would have loved to have shared a brothers trip with Phillip somewhere in the world, with just the two of us. It's not really a regret, though. I'm very lucky in that I don't have many regrets about the time I spent with him. We shared many special moments together. I wouldn't want to trade any memories we made together for a hypothetical. That trip is just a wish that I know I'll never be able to actualize. You can't live a full life that ends at 19, so I know that no matter what I would yearn for more. 9 years separated us, so we really only had a few years together where we could start to have "common interests" and a large swath of it was marred by the pandemic. I like to think we did a lot in those years, despite that.
Shared by Grazyna Zukowska on May 28, 2021
Have of My Heart is Gone
Son,I wish I could wake up and see you standing there. Then I would know that it was just a nightmare.
Son, I remember when you were small and how you would hold my hand, and as you grew older you became my best friend.
Son, I have 19 years of memories that I will treasure and keep safe in my heart. We share a bond that time and distance can never break apart.
Son, oh how my heart aches so. I would love to have you back and never let you go.
Son, where there was happiness, now there is sadness.
Son, how I long to hear your voice and see your beautiful smile and have you back for just a little while.
Son, until that day I see you again, I will look to the sky and search among the stars for my son and best friend.
Love, Mom

A castle, a bat and a laugh

Shared by Matt Zukowski on May 24, 2021
I think this is probably going to be my most cherished video of Phillip. I wish I had more like it. I think it's the only one that has his extremely infectious and silly laugh on full display towards the end. He would often laugh for a solid 10-20 seconds and try to talk while doing so - the words would come out, but the words themselves would absolutely shake with his laughter. You can feel it in every syllable. I'm so glad it's here to share. I was mildly annoyed when Tess recorded this because I don't like to be recorded, as was Phillip (very visibly), but she said "This is for memories. You're going to look back on this and say `ahhh gawshhh`". She couldn't be more right.

Context on the video before I get into the story itself:
Phillip and I were attempting to explain Epic Meal Time to Tess, a bunch of youtubers who create extreme dishes that have more calories than you need in a week. While explaining it, Phillip either found a vegetable or a piece of plastic in his food. I don't entirely buy his insistence that it was plastic because Phillip had a ... narrow palate and I don't think he knew how most vegetables taste. Tess brought up some absolutely random thing about me walking around in my boxers (which she called knickers) and that set Phillip off. He had a bit of a staccato laugh, where you could hear every sound individually, and that translated directly to when he tried to talk while laughing. He did this ALL THE TIME and I absolutely could not do it justice describing it, so I'll just leave it to Phillip to do so.


Okay, so for the story! This little clip is in a restaurant in Tuscany. We had been driving most of the day and we were staying for just a night at this lovely little castle/tower right outside of Siena - Castello Delle Quattro Torra. I remember us going inside for the first time as we drove up and being a little afraid/weirded out. When you open the main gate, it leads into this damp courtyard, filled with moss. We walked up the stairs, but it got much more nicer. It was quaint and a little spooky, but we got an extremely warm welcome from the owner and a tour of the castle itself. In the upper deck, the most vivid thing I remember is Phillip and I going higher, but a bat came down from the upper part and we just absolute scampered (Tess refused to go higher upon seeing/hearing the bat). The other distinctive thing I remember at the hotel is us reading these little cards talking about all the bloody battles that took place at the castle. It was definitely a bit spooky and made us feel like ghosts were around us.

The owner let us know they owned a restaurant, but that it was a 10 minute drive away on their farm. We didn't have any dinner plans so decided to take them up on it and were SO glad we did. We drove up to this little farmstead and parked our car. There were lots of tables out on this very grassy and flowery lawn. It was a gorgeous view, right around dusk. We got a bottle of wine and tried some courses out. I remember Phillip got a very plain sounding dish, but when we all tried each others', I was super jealous because his was by far the best. It was all honestly quite good though and one of our favorite meals in Italy. All farm fresh. We probably spent close to 2-3 hours eating, drinking and sharing pleasant nothings. The video is exactly one of those. It's not a memorable conversation, but its one that helps build up a night that I always remember fondly. 

One of the most iconic parts of the night came when we saw a meteor in the sky - a shooting star. We all wished for something. We didn't share what it was, but I hope Phillip's came true.

Spin to win

Shared by Matt Zukowski on May 12, 2021
I don't know the context behind this short little video, but it exemplifies Phillip to me. It's a little twirl of joy, with his very knowing smile coming up at the very end.

Remus Picture Wall

Shared by Matt Zukowski on May 10, 2021
Phillip was extremely excited about living with his fraternity friends next year. He was a little scared of the bunk bed because he was very afraid of heights, but my parents assured him they'd move it down a bit and that seemed to settle him.

The last time Remus got a haircut, Phillip was overjoyed. He texted me and told me Remus looked incredible and asked me to share whatever pictures I had of him. He had so many amazing memories with Remus, as he was my frequent dogsitter. He loved this particular look on him. He told me that next year, he wanted to make a huge picture wall and throw in different styles of Remus.

Since he will not be able to put together it himself, Tess and I went through all of our Remus photos and picked out the most touching ones with Phillip and Remus together as well as the photos Phillip liked the most. Tess put the collage together for him. This is our picture wall for him. We hope you love it Phillip.

Christmas 2020

Shared by Matt Zukowski on May 10, 2021
This photo is from Phillip's sophomore year winter break. It was still in the heart of Covid, so Tess wasn't able to be with her family and joined ours instead for Christmas. This was legitimately one of my favorite Christmases by FAR. It was so full of joy and wonder. We knew it was going to be an odd one because normally Tess would be home in Austin with her family for Christmas and we would potentially have other family with us, but it ended up being a very intimate affair that we made extremely joyful.

Phillip, Tess & I decorated the tree together. Phillip thought it was extremely silly. Why would you go through all this effort to put all these decorations up, just to take them down several days later??

We made so many different foods than we normally do. We often have very traditional Polish foods on Christmas, but this year we added a lot of foods that Tess would normally have at her table to make her feel more welcome. There's a tradition of 13 usual Polish dishes - Phillip and I found them a bit much (as he loved to say), but Tess made a point of trying each one (exactly once, though). Phillip and I enjoyed the more americanized foods (turkey, mashed potatoes, etc.) 

We went absolutely all out with gifts. Tess got Phillip a game he wanted - Cyberpunk 2077. My parents got him a boatload of things. Remus had his own gifts, but mostly he liked playing with the wrapping paper from everyone else's gifts. There was so much paper, he got lost in it and the crinkle and crackle still rings in my ears of him crawling through all of it.

I got him some comfy pants and matching mini speakers for him, me and Tess. My main gift, though, was an adventure. That is my favorite kind of gift to give because I really love creating memories. I think they're so much more meaningful than physical items. They last forever. I will cherish all of my memories with Phillip. He was the best brother ever. He doesn't deserve to be gone today.

My gift to him this Christmas was a spring break trip. I never really got to go on a "true" spring break in my college years and wanted to make sure he got to and had the very best time and the most college experience he could have. I remember he was happy, but he thought it was a theoretical gift - like in the future, if he wanted to go, I would give him the money then. I had actually sent him it when we were opening presents and right after I told him what it was. When he realized a few days later, he was overcome and stunned. He didn't know what to say - I don't think it felt very tangible to him until then. I knew he had had an extremely tough semester the fall before. He had transferred to a new school, but because of Covid, wasn't able to meet any new friends and mostly kept to himself. I wanted to make sure he had something real and exciting to look forward to. I think it gave him a lot of hope and optimism for the future. He never got to actually experience the gift, but I hope the fact that he had it to look forward to brought him joy.

That would be an incredibly sad note to end on for this story, so I won't, because these days were very much happy ones. I had asked for a bunch of board games for Christmas and we tried so many of them together - Phillip, Tess and me. Phillip enjoyed all the little fun bird facts he learned from Wingspan, but he never quite had the knack for it. It didn't stop him from having a blast. He was never a sore loser and always tried hard to the very end. This was an extremely long game and Phillip played standing up, while Tess and I sat on chairs. My mom told me that he went over to tell her at some point that he was super tired of standing. She told him to ask us to take turns on the chairs, but he was mortified. Tess and I were guests - of course he wouldn't ask us.

We also played a lot of other games. Tess got me a gag gift, a card game called Goat Lords. In this game, Phillip absolutely TROUNCED us. Of all the games to win, he wasn't thrilled this is the one he won, but given what a thrashing it was, I needed to call it out.

Naturally, we played a bunch of league together as well. Phillip would sit in his computer on his room and talk to Tess and me, quietly shouting (so we could hear) and making sure we could communicated with each other. Tess and I played on the island countertop. Phillip, of course, lent me his good mousepad and used his old one.

We also played a cooperative card game called Crew and Phillip was extremely good at it. It's not a game you win alone. It's a game you win together. Phillip, unsurprisingly, shined at it. He always shined at times he could work with others. He was compassionate, kind and always put others before himself. His last words to me were out of concern for my wellbeing, like they very often were.

I still have his gift to me from this Christmas. It's a gift card to Barnes & Noble with a little note on it - `For your next fantasy to dive into. - Phillip`. I'm going to save it for a special book, but I think the note is something I'll keep as a reminder.
Shared by Taieba Khan on May 10, 2021
Phillip was one of the true friends I made at QHSS. He always surrounded himself with great people, and I found myself always wanting to talk to them and intrude on their conversations. He could have asked me to leave, or even ignored me completely, but Phillip instead would just continue talking and even paused as I spoke to give me the reactions I wanted. I never felt like a third party, even though often times, I was. Phillip had the ability to understand others on a different level - he saw how immature I could be and made sure to be mature enough, handling the situation so that I didn't feel embarrassed. Sometimes, he would be immature along with me, much to Bibi's dismay. I'm so thankful to him for many things, and I regret that I didn't get to tell him. I had planned to tell him one day, to reach out once I could proudly show him what his good friendship and kind words had helped me achieve. Instead, I'll say it now: thank you for believing in me. When I was telling you that I wouldn't apply to any big schools because I knew I wouldn't get in, you told me to shut up and apply because I had accomplished much more in high school than I realized. You told me about schools I could apply to without worrying about financial aid. You made me feel normal in a school that made me feel dumb. Thank you for showing up to every event that my club hosted simply because I begged you the week before. You don't understand how much that meant to me, as someone who felt incompetent and insecure at every moment. But seeing you with your group of friends at events immediately made all of those insecurities go away, as I knew I had friends that didn't have to be there still show up, and I could be myself without having you or any of your friends judge me. Thank you for everything that you have done for me, not even on purpose, but just because you are a genuinely good and kind-natured person. Lastly, thank you for always being a good friend to me. 

The simple joys

Shared by Matt Zukowski on May 10, 2021
I'm really struggling to find a way to articulate my close memories of Phillip, so I will start with a simple memory my parents shared with me recently that showcases the kind of joy Phillip was able to find in the world around him. 

This picture was taken the week before he came home for the last time. It was snowing and he caught a few snowflakes in his hand and snapped a quick picture and sent it. This is such a small and simple thing, but it's indicative of the kind of little pieces of happiness Phillip saw in others and in the world all the time.

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