Though I hadn’t seen him in over twenty years, I knew I’d miss him forever

I stood in the lobby of the Falcon Theater in Toluca Lake, and looked at Twitter while I waited for the rest of the guys to arrive. The walls were covered with posters from productions like CHiPs: The Musical and It's A Stevie Wonderful Life. Being in a theater during the day, when it's just a building with a stage, instead of the performance space it becomes when an audience fills the seats makes me feel like I'm getting to see The Haunted Mansion with all the lights on, like I'm in a secret place that few people get to see, and I felt an almost imperceptible longing to perform in a play tug gently but insistently at that thing in my being that makes me an actor.

Someone came over and started talking to me. I made polite conversation, but I don't remember what or who we talked about. This was an emotional day for me (though I didn’t know precisely how emotional it would be until later), and while I didn’t want to be rude, I wasn’t in a particularly chatty mood. It was the first time Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell and I would be in the same place since 1986 or 1987. We were technically there to give some interviews to promote Stand By Me’s blu-ray release, but  — for me at least — it was much more than that. It was a reunion.

We made Stand By Me twenty-five years ago. To commemorate the anniversary, a special blu-ray disc has been produced. Among the obligatory special features is a feature-length commentary that Rob Reiner, Corey, and I did together while watching the movie a couple months ago. On that day, I was apprehensive: what would they think of me? Would our memories match up? Would the commentary be entertaining and informative? …who would be the first to talk about River, and how would we all react to it?

It turns out that I had nothing to worry about then. It was a joy to watch the movie with them, and I was especially happy to discover that, after a very troubled life, Corey seems to be doing really well. Rob made me feel like he was a proud father and we were his kids, and when we talked about River, it was … well, private. I’ll leave it at that.

So as I stood there in the lobby, waiting for a familiar face to come through the door, I was happy and looking forward to our reunion without nervousness or apprehension. This stood in marked contrast to all the times I reunited with my friends from TNG when I was younger (my problem, not theirs), and I was grateful for that.

A few minutes later, the door opened, and an incredibly tall, handsome, well-dressed man walked through it.

“Holy crap,” I thought, “Jerry grew up.”

It was such a stupid thought, but there it was. I see Jerry on television all the time, and I knew that he was tall and handsome and only two years younger than me, but I had that strange disconnect in my mind that can only come from not seeing someone for about twenty years and I simultaneously did and did not recognize him.

I was standing near some food on a table, and Jerry walked up to grab a sandwich. As he reached toward the table, we made eye contact.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi, I’m Jerry,” he said, with a friendly smile.

“I’m Wil,” I said, “We worked on this movie together twenty-five years ago.”

In a few seconds that seemed to go on for minutes, I saw him look at me in disbelief, surprise, recognition, and joy. He flashed a smile that lit up the room and wrapped me in a hug.

“Oh my God, dude,” he said, “I can’t believe it’s … wow! You’re — I — Jesus, look at you!”

I smiled back, and strangely noted that my son is taller than him. “Look at you!” I said.

We talked as much as we could, trying to compress two decades into ten minutes, before he had to go to the make-up chair. As he walked away, my brain tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You know, he’s married to Rebecca Romijn. When he’s talking about his wife, that’s who he means.” “I know, brain. I know,” I thought back, “don’t be weird. Be cool, man.” A moment later, Richard Dreyfuss walked into the lobby, followed fairly quickly by Rob and then Corey.

Before I had time to do more than Twitter about how surreal it felt to see them all, we were all gathered together and directed from the lobby into the theater for our first interview. On the way in, I said to Corey, “I feel like there are all these famous, successful people here … and me.”

He laughed and said, “I was thinking exactly the same thing!”

Before I could make a witty zinger, he clarified, “about myself, I mean. Famous people and me, not, like, famous people and you.”

I laughed. “I knew what you meant, man,” I said.

It was the kind of friendly, enjoyable, effortless conversation we couldn’t have when we were younger, and I was glad for it.

There were five chairs set up for us in a semi circle. Our names were on pieces of paper so we knew where to sit. I was between Rob and Corey, and Jerry and Richard sat to Corey’s left. When we all sat down, Rob looked down the row of seats and softly said to me, “it feels like there should be an empty seat here for River.”

People ask me about River all the time. He and I were close during filming, and for about a year or so after filming, but the sad truth is that he got sucked into a lifestyle that I just don’t have room in my life for, and we drifted apart. When he died, I was shocked and horrified, but I wasn’t completely surprised. I didn’t feel a real sense of loss at the time — the River I knew and loved had been gone for a long time at that point — but I felt sad for his family, and angry at the people around him who didn’t do more to help him help himself. Since he died, when I've talked about him, I've felt like I’m talking about the idea of him, instead of the person I knew, if that makes sense.

But when Rob said that to me, with such sadness in his eyes, it was like I’d been punched in the stomach by eighteen years of suppressed grief. I knew that if I tried to say anything, all I would do was cry, and I didn’t know if I’d be able to stop. I took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and nodded. “Yeah,” I whispered.

Later that day, when I’d had time to think about it and was recounting the whole thing to my wife, Anne, I said, “I think that having all of us together — the surviving members of the cast — made me feel like he really wasn’t there for the first time since he died. I don’t mean to be callous or anything like that, but that’s what it took to make his death and his absence a real thing that I could feel, instead of an event that I wasn’t part of but am forced to talk about more often than I’d like.”

I spent much of the next few days remembering all the things we did together during production, thinking about how much I looked up to him and how much I loved his entire family. I don’t know what would have happened to us if he hadn’t overdosed, if he ever would have come back from the edge, or if we would even have had anything in common … but when he was fifteen and I was thirteen, he was my friend. That’s the person I knew, and that’s the person I miss.

We talked about River in the interview, of course, and I think Richard put it best when he said that there is this monster in Hollywood that everyone knows about. It lurks just out of view, and occasionally it reaches up and snatches someone … and it got River.

Richard also talked about why we are actors, and what it means to him to be creative. It was so poetic and inspiring, that almost imperceptible longing to perform in a play I felt in the lobby turned into an overwhelming compulsion. Distracted by the responsibilities of every day life, it’s easy for me to forget why I love and need to perform. It’s easy to forget how satisfying it is to create a character, to discover something magnificent in a script or a scene, and then bring those things to life with other actors in front of an audience.

The entire interview lasted for close to an hour, I guess, and will be edited down to something between three and six minutes. I hope that the producers will cut together something longer, or even run the entire thing online somewhere, because it was one of the rare conversations that I think a lot of people, especially artists, would enjoy listening to.

When all of our interviews were done, I asked Jerry if he’d like to get together when he was on hiatus to have a proper conversation and really catch up on stuff. He said he’d like that, so we traded e-mail addresses. I didn’t expect him to actually want to see me once the glow of seeing each other for the first time in two decades faded, but we’re actually planning it, which delights me. Rob hugged me and made me feel like he was proud of me, and Richard blew me away with the work he’s doing for The Dreyfuss Initiative. 

As I drove home from the theater I was overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. It was wonderful to see those guys again, and especially to reconnect with Jerry, but it was also tremendously sad to truly feel River’s loss for the first time. That turbulent mix of joy and sorrow stayed with me for several days, which is why I haven’t been able to write about it for almost a week.

Most actors will go their entire careers without doing a movie like Stand By Me, or working with a director like Rob Reiner. I got to do both when I was 12. For a long, long time, I felt like I needed to top or equal that, and it wasn’t until I was in my early 30s that I accepted that it’s unlikely to happen — movies like Stand By Me come along once in a generation. 

But getting to spend a few hours remembering the experience with Rob, Jerry, Corey and Richard, free of the burden to prove to them that I was worthy of Stand By Me’s legacy, was something I will cherish for years. I just wish that River was here to enjoy it with us.

176 thoughts on “Though I hadn’t seen him in over twenty years, I knew I’d miss him forever”

  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful retrospective /introspective, Wil. Thank you for sharing a little piece of what means so much to you. I am a couple years younger than you and have always found Stand By Me to be to be an awesome coming-of-age flick. As others have stated, it is also one to tear me up. Let us not overlook – Toy Soldiers was awesome as well.
    I appreciate that what seems to come out of your public life is positive and endearing. As someone in this thread mentioned, it’s very possible that your roles have inspired some unknown number of individuals in their own lives, relationships, and to pursue the careers which they have, because of your character. I commend you for your positive attributes and am also glad to see you seemingly live your life as a positive role model. I’m also proud of the result of you (as someone mentioned), having done -some- of your growing up as a ‘Hollywood kid’. (no label intended, more like a reference)
    I was fortunate to shoot Corey and his dame in 1993 on a live tv show. He was quite charismatic and seemed down-to-earth. The only night of the show which I would up shooting B&W. The photos came out fantastic, perhaps with help from the fedora and suit he wore. Unfortunately, no one besides my family has really seen them… the show didn’t last long.
    Thanks again, Wil.

  2. Wow, this takes me back. Not because of Stand By Me but because of Richard Dreyfuss’ comment about The Hollywood Monster.
    You and I are the same age, I think, so back in the early 90’s, I was at University of Houston as a theatre student, and you probably well remember what Hollywood was like then. I aspired like crazy to get there myself. At the time, I would have done damn near anything to have your life.
    We had among us there in our School of Theatre a bright light named Michael Merrick. He was truly gifted, and we all watched him work as though we were lucky enough to have been studying Brando from ten feet away. He was beautiful and intelligent, well-spoken and a surprisingly nice guy. We all hated him as much as we loved him. :)
    The inevitable eventually happened. Hollywood called, and Michael went. We were thrilled. One of our own, one of our best, in a feature film with names that people on the street actually recognized. I don’t remember what it was now. A lot of sleeps have happened since then. Time passed, we heard that filming had started, more time passed, and then about a year after he’d gone to LA, the worst news.
    Michael was gone, just like that, swallowed down the Monster’s maw never to return.
    How could this have happened? We grieved and speculated and wondered, many of us deciding, in that way you do while you’re young and still fancy yourself terribly clever and immortal, that we would have been smarter than that. But really, it could have been any of us. We all wanted what Michael wanted. Most of us were hollow inside in the same ways Michael evidently was. Most of us had no idea who we were.
    I stood at the crossroads once myself and felt the Monster’s breath gusting up from the glittering road to Shangri-La La Land. I spent the end of the summer of 1990 in Southern California and ended up on the Paramount lot to visit Jackie Edwards with whom I had struck up a friendship the year before. I caught someone’s eye while bumming around the lot near the TNG trailers and was nearly persuaded to blow off going back to Houston to start my junior year in favor of coming back to read two weeks later for a minor speaking role in a Trek episode. There was a vicious brawl on the spot among my ambition, my drive to finish my degree, and my inner fangirl. Thankfully the academian prevailed in a narrow upset, and I went home. Had I stayed, naive blank slate that I was, that place would have eaten me alive whether I had succeeded or not.
    Anyway, I think Michael’s loss struck a mortal wound to my desire to become a professional actor. It took years for it to finally die, but I had decided that I wanted to live. Spending most of my time telling the people I most wanted to be with, “Sorry, I can’t, I have rehearsal/a shoot/a call/a fitting/etc.,” didn’t sound like such a good plan after all. And you know the truism about needing to love acting more than air and sunlight or don’t bother. I didn’t love it enough anymore, and we decided to see other people.
    I didn’t get out of the business all together, mind. I’m part of IATSE. There just turned out to be less predator-infested waters in which to satisfy my creative inclinations while I grew up and out of being easy prey.
    Thank you for this unexpected trigger to memory. Michael was my friend, and although my grief processed through long ago, I am still sad at the silencing of his infectious laugh, the loss of his unrehearsed kindness, and the snuffing out of his magnificent talent before it had fully bloomed.
    I suppose that’s all a rather long way about saying I am sorry for your loss freshly realized. You have my very deepest empathy and my appreciation for the reminder of how precious life is.

  3. I think you should do a play. Any theatre company would be glad to welcome you into their ranks, and nothing hones an actor’s craft like the instant feedback that only a theatre audience can provide.
    I’ve felt frequently that I’ve been drifting through life while contemporaries went on to bigger and better things, but since I got back into stage acting (only at the amateur level, but directed by retired professionals, to professional standards) I’ve been a lot happier. The opportunity to connect directly with an audience and bring a play to life is a privilege, and any actor’s natural habitat.
    Typepad isn’t playing nice with my Blogger login today, but I tend to talk a lot more about my acting stuff on than on my Livejournal.

  4. Best. Blog. Posting. Ever!!
    This posting only proves that you’ve become one of the most successful men in that group. I’ve always admired how you picked great roles, working w/ some of the greatest men in the industry, incl. Patrick Stewart and Rob Reiner. If more actors followed your example, we wouldn’t be seeing LiLo and Charlie Sheen and their troubles.
    I’m close to your age and remember when River passed away. For me, he was my first ‘actor who overdosed’. It gave me an insight to the realities of the industry. But I could never figure out the real reason behind that behavior. It wasn’t until I dabbled in the industry as an extra that I saw, firsthand, the mentality of the industry. The strong ones, like you, become successful in their personal lives and families. The rest, well, you know.
    You’re funny, smart, quirky, and a ‘class act’. I’m sure your wife, kids, and parents are proud to have you in their lives. Your parents deserve all the best for raising a great son!
    This blog posting only proves why I continue to be a fan of yours!

  5. Wil,
    What stands out most to me when I read your blog is how I feel like you’re speaking in a conversation directly to me, not writing to thousands of people. I admire and enjoy that immensely. Thank you for sharing your reunion story with us.

  6. Wil, I don’t know you, nor do I know how I came to follow you on twitter. I follow a lot of writers and I usually just skip past the blog post entries, however, your”s called me this morning, “This was harder for me than I thought,” I too have felt that many times after writing. It almost feels like, “I’ve made it through something horrific but lived to tell about it.” It usually takes a few days to recover from the emotional upheaval but once I’m safely on the other side I feel subdued.
    While reading your piece I was surprised to learn how much writers and actors have in common. Each craft has an outlet for the soul and also a looking glass for others to see. I felt the lure of the stage in your essay as a place of cleansing for you. I hope writing about it provided as safe a portal for your ancient sadness as acting out the role would’ve.
    Your writing shook me and I felt you. My eyes stung and innards tightened for the metamorphosis of a man I don’t know. Thank you for the privilege.

  7. Stand by Me is the movie that I became a Wil Wheaton fan. Why? Oh must of been those doe eyes and the sweet smile, not to mention the emotions you felt as Gordie. Anyway I saw that movie in 1986 and fell in love with it. People don’t like to watch the movie with me, because I can recite all the lines in the movie I have seen it so many times. I actually have the special edition dvd with the music video and featurette. Once in awhile I’ll pull out the dvd and watch it. How ironic that the end has River’s character Chris walking away and he disapears! Like he’s gone forever. Stand by Me will always be a gem of the 80’s. They don’t make movies like they did back in the day now. I’m sure there are some today, but not like back in the day. (I’m talking about before 2000)Nope, there are some movies that are in a class of themselves. Wil what do you think of the remakes of movies we loved in the 80’s? I think directors shouldn’t remake such great movies that we grew up watching. What do you think? It was nice to read such a great reunion you had. I think if the monster hadn’t grabbed River and gave him the deadly kiss of death he would of been even greater of an actor than he was when he was alive before. You and a lot of child actors managed to escape the monster. Corey managed to escape barely, but of course there are the others that didn’t. Thank you for the beautiful writing of your reunion with Jerry and the others.

  8. Wil, you shouldn’t make me tear up. I’m in class and people are staring at me.
    In all seriousness, that was a beautiful sentiment that really hit home with me. Thank you.

  9. Thank you for sharing this Wil. Raw emotion is something that isn’t usually easily conveyed through simple words on a page but I felt it here in this post. Normally after something like that I’d be inclined to give ya a hug, so a digital one will have to do. *hug*

  10. If I was half the writer you are, I could put into words how you make me feel, what you feel. You bring us all into your world, like we’re there with you and it’s really.. a very cool thing.
    From a big fan of Stand By Me.. Thank you for sharing the “Being Wil Wheaton” moments of the reunion.. truly, thank you.

  11. One of my best friends died of cancer at age 25. And recently one of my old high school friends sent me a message on Facebook saying, “Hey, whatever happened to Ryan? Why isn’t he on Facebook?” and there I am with my daughter on my lap, but I’m also sitting in a hospital room 15 years ago whispering goodbye, and I’m tearing up and can’t catch my breath, and, damn, it never really goes away, does it?

  12. The way you write, is not just good joice of words that makes it interesting, you put there somehow your heart and that’s why through your writing I could experience all of that so vividly, almost as if it would be my own memory. Something so subtle in your thoughts here that touched me with a faint pain, my own thoughts of being an actor, in my case it was brief but nevertheless dream that came true, for an immigrant who went to theatre school at 28 and after only a few movies had to stop all the pursuit of acting. In a way I understand River, and people like Kurt Cobain, in a way, because there is something painful in all of the existance, and although I never did drugs and consider that total slavery to stupidity, I somehow do understand desire to escape from life and unbearable discomfort that existance can bring. Some people are more sensitive than others, but there is this underlying suffering in everyone’s life, even if you are succesfull and talented and beautiful, the mind still can have pain and feel trapped in always changing and never truely satisfying existance.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your beautiful writing.

  13. It’s so eerie to me that all the actors grew up and did what their characters did in the movie. You became a writer, River died long before his time, Corey had a troubled couple of decades, and Jerry married Rebecca Romijn (just like Vern).
    In all seriousness, I call that unexpected swell of sadness a Grief Sucker-punch. It’s basically surprise grief over the loss of a loved one.

  14. Wil, Thank you so much for writing this! i loved it not only because you are such a talented writer but because it pulled at my heartstrings hard! When you say The River you knew was 15 and he was your friend, the fact that you are forced to talk about him I am sorry I am having a hard time wording this, what I am trying to say is I didnt even know River at all yet I have this amazing love for him, where it comes from I dont know, I am not one to worship celebrities by any means and get frustrated that as a society we do this so often when children are starving in the world ect.. But with River its different and it bothers me to a degree because I cant figure out why i feel this way for him, anyway what you wrote really touched me, it would be so strange to have to be put in the spot that you are often in, talking about someone who passed so long ago the way he did and not really have knowing him very well since you were young. Anyhow I have babbled on too much, I really just wanted to thank you

  15. Nice one brother, nice one.
    I remember after the movie when River came to our house in his monster truck. At least that’s what my 8 year old’s memory is telling me about. I still can’t believe Jerry married Rebecca Romijn, but I don’t believe more that her last name is pronounced romain.

  16. Stand By Me has been my favourite movie since I first saw it when I was 9 years old (25 years ago!). It’s a movie that I can watch over and over again and never get sick of it.
    This was a wonderful write-up that brought me to tears. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  17. I was going to write to say that, in case you were wondering if anyone got this part, “…but when he was fifteen and I was thirteen, he was my friend.”, I did. But then I realized I have a story that you might like to hear.
    When I was sixteen (in 1990), River was one of the “famous guys I liked” (along with you :P)…and I liked him extra because he was vegan, and I was a big fan of animals. I was also a poet. One day, I decided to write a fan letter (my first; I was never really that kind of girl, but I tried a lot to be “normal”) to River, and I was trying to write him a poem about animals, and as I was working on it, I got more and more upset with myself because, even though my personal beliefs suggested I should do otherwise, I still ate meat. I got about halfway through before I got mad enough to stand up, go into the kitchen, and inform my mother that, from that day forward, I was no longer eating meat. I meant it, and was a vegetarian (I couldn’t quite bear to go vegan) for the next twenty years. I recently, after much soul searching, went pescetarian, a choice I don’t regret for, again, many personal reasons, but I have River, even though it was completely inadvertent, to thank for not only being vegetarian for so long, but also for the courage and conviction to stand by my principles that was cemented in me that day.
    I hope I got this in early enough that you actually see it.

  18. Damn it man… my eyes are leaking.
    Great post Wil. Stand By Me was truly an amazing film and one I’ve seen more times than I can count.
    Thanks for posting this.

  19. Dear Wil,
    I was 13 the summer SBM was in the theater. I saw it 11 times at the $2 matinee, always by myself so no one could detract from my experience.
    By way of that movie you (and River and Corey and Jerry) ushered me through that hideous time of life we used to call junior high. You will always hold a place in my heart for that reason, and in some (possibly awkward) way it could be said that you, as Gordie, had real influence on the person I eventually grew to be.
    Consequently, my husband and I have greatly enjoyed following your blog, twitter posts and appearances on Big Bang Theory. But this degree of emotional openness with your fans is way beyond what I would expect from almost any other celebrity, so thank you for that. And for being a fixture of my adolescence.

  20. Do you remember that River and his family lived around the block from us when we lived in Sunland? They were across the street on Wentworth from that lady who babysat us.
    Small world!

  21. Thank you so much for this, Wil. I think of River daily, I miss him daily, and even still, I can’t imagine what it was like to actually know him and lose him. I’m thinking of him and missing him from afar, though his impact on me is immense. If you will, allow me to explain. Stand By Me was my favorite movie long before I began my fascination with River Phoenix. It just resonated with me as an incredible accomplishment, a rare movie.
    Throughout most of my life, starting at age 10, I had a terrible self-esteem and even worse body image. Though it didn’t turn into an active eating disorder until later on, in my early-mid 20s, that self-loathing was always with me. And then in my early and mid 20s, I began harming myself with eating. I would restrict, I would over-exercise, I would shut everyone out. It was a terrible, lonely existence. For years, I punished myself for not being the right weight, for not being good enough, for not being in better control. It got to a point where I started abusing diet pills. It was an obsession; I kept them in my purse at all times. I would take 2, even if I wasn’t about to eat anything. I ignored the tingling in my arms and hands, the rapid heartbeat, the terrible stomachache. I would flush the pills with my best friend by my side, only to buy more the next day. And then I turned to look at myself in the mirror and said “What am I doing? If I’m not careful, I’m going to end up addicted. I have too much pride, underneath all of this, to become addicted.” And I flushed them. No one beside me to encourage me, no one to hug me after. I did it on my own.
    After that lightbulb moment, I decided to take some time off from the world. I turned off my computer, told my friends not to contact me, and for two weeks, explored myself. It was during those two weeks that I read a powerful biography about River (In Search Of River Phoenix: The Truth Behind The Myth). It was deep, it was rich, and it helped me to realize my worth. For years, I had been waffling about being a vegetarian, but thought I couldn’t do it because I loved fish too much. As it turned out, something deep inside of me wasn’t letting me become a vegetarian because I would only be using it as a tool for restriction. River helped me to realize the deeper meaning behind vegetarianism. After I read the book, I ate my last piece of meat, on June 11, 2007. I never looked back. I had a new perspective. Six months later, I was vegan. For all the right reasons. River taught me that. Even though he had been gone for almost 14 years by the time I got to this point, he was right there with me, helping me.
    River saved my life. It’s almost odd to think that, considering that he couldn’t end up saving his own. But he saved mine, and I thank him every day.
    Wow, that was long and I apologize. I just needed to tell you because I think you would understand.
    This blog brought tears to my eyes, and I thank you again for writing it. Your memories and insights have made it that much more real for me. I feel more connected to the situation, and what it was like for you. After you tweeted about the reunion last week, I was waiting for you to blog about it..but I also had a feeling that it would take some time for you to sort it out. Can I just repeat- I’m so glad you did. You’re a part of cinema history in the best way possible- a timeless, poignant movie. Be proud.

  22. ‘…movies like Stand By Me come along once in a generation.’ so do people like you, Wil.
    Trifecta of talent: writer, actor, person.
    Thank you for continuing to spread your truth beyond 140 characters.
    boop beep.

  23. I was ten when Stand By Me came out and I don’t think any movie really stuck with me the way that one did. We listened to the music and quoted the lines constantly. Sometimes I still do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told someone to suck my fat one!
    Thank you so much for sharing this experience and your memories with us.

  24. Awesome post!
    You and Jerry are on the same page. You did SBM and SNG. He did SBM and Jerry MacGuire.
    1) Besides those 2nd or 3rd Generation Actors (“Hollywood Royalty”?) most actors had or have a normal life before acting.
    2) Give yourself a break or give yourself some credit. Give others a break or credit whenever you can :)
    3) Be sure that you do hook up. Didn’t you post about getting together with Sean Astin after Lord of the Rings.
    BTW – All three of you seem to have found great wives!

  25. I found out my best friend from high school had passed away about 3 years ago (my daughter was an infant at the time so I *always* know how long ago it was). I had to write a post about her. It’s still up at — I feel like you shared your loss with me so I am offering up mine to share with you.
    Something that occurred to me after I wrote that post: she has acquaintances that will never have a better friend. I bet that’s true of you too.

  26. Wil, it’s hard to explain how much this resonates with me. Maybe because I have friends from my childhood that I haven’t seen in 20+ years because of a cross-country move–friends I dearly loved & distinctly remember watching this movie with. Maybe because I also lost a friend way too young. Maybe because it’s so deeply personal and beautifully written. Sometimes I feel like a freak because I over-identify with certain books or movies or characters. And then sometimes I feel like this. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us.

  27. An absolutely wonderful text to read. Both laughed and cried while reading it. Can’t wait ’til I have the blu-ray 25th years edition in my hand. Love.

  28. I never read blogs… but I happen to be a new fan of, well, you. I felt excited and nervous reading this. Thanks for sharing.

  29. This was a great blog entry dude. Stand By Me is one of my all time favorites, and always will be. River was outstanding in that film, and was an incredible talent.
    Death of any friend, especially when they are someone you let go from your life always leaves you with a irrational sense of guilt.
    Like you should have done something, or perhaps the loss of your friendship is what pushed them deeper into their dark world. Even if you were just that annoying gnat still in their life that kept telling them to stop what they are doing that it would have been enough to save them.
    It’s tough to rationalize it, I know, but you just have to keep reminding yourself that they are ultimately responsible for their own actions.
    And from what I read I know you do. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Wil,
    Long time reader, first time poster.
    Thank you for this post. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and you did a fantastic job making me feel like I was there in the car and the room with you.
    SBM is one of my all time favorites and I’ve watched it with my family literally several dozens of times over the years.
    I didn’t know him, but I miss him too.
    Thanks again for sharing this with us!

  31. I didn’t come from a particularly movie-oriented family, so I didn’t get to see “Stand By Me” until my husband showed it to me a few years ago. It’s one of those moments where I was *pissed* I didn’t get to experience it when I was a kid. I know it would have been one of those stories that stuck with me and shaped me in some subtle and awesome ways. Thank goodness that movies are decently permanent and that I can show it to my kids someday.
    And Wil, thanks for not only sharing things like this so eloquently, but for letting your blog become a place where so many of us can share our common memories. Makes me feel a little more connected to the world.

  32. I’m glad to hear you’re ready to watch the movie. I know it’ll be tough, but I hope happy memories of your friend can surpass your sadness that he’s not there with you. And maybe you’ll be able to treat the film as a celebration of your friendship and of friendship in general, because that’s really what it is.
    We’ll all be thinking of you. Let us know how it goes, OK? *HUG*

  33. I am 36 and my son is 13. I think it’s time to watch the film together and share a really important piece of my childhood with my boy… Thank you, Wil.

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