This blog is dedicated to Dave Huerta, Fred Clarke, John Wise, and the late Al Schafer.
It is the last line in the classic film, Stand By Me: “I never had any friends later on, like the ones I had when I was twelve…Jesus….does anyone?” Fade to black. Roll the credits.
I was quite young when I first saw this movie—too young to understand what that line meant. Today, I do.
Each summer my mind often drifts to childhood friendships. I am blessed not only with great memories, but with the uncanny ability to recall them down to the smallest detail. Not just where we went, what we did, and the dumb things we talked about. But more importantly, how it all felt. We were young. We were indestructible. We were friends.
On the first day of 5th grade, I wandered into my new school. It was much bigger than my elementary school. In fact, to an 11-year old boy, the place was HUGE. There were kids everywhere and they all seemed to know exactly what they were doing and where they were going. Me? I was a frightened kid who nervously looked around for a place to sit so that I could figure out what I was doing. I sat in an open chair next to Dave Huerta. 35 years later it seems he’s still at my side—standing by me. Since he now lives in Japan, I only see Dave once or twice a year, but he always seems to know just when to call or write. One particularly stressful week, I got an encouraging note from him. It ended with these words: “More than anything Curt, keep your daily relationship with God fresh.” Dave’s message is flawless, his timing impeccable; a priceless reminder that I’m never alone.
A good friend knows all your best stories, a best friend has lived them with you.
Have you ever watched children make new friends? When my daughters were nine, my wife and I took them to the beach in Florida. About an hour after arriving at our sandy-paradise, they whined in stereo, “We’re bored!” The next day, they were catching tiny fish and collecting rocks and shells with two little girls they met that morning. They introduced them to us as their new best friends. After that, they only came to us for food. It became one of their most memorable vacations.
I am annoyed by adulthood. Adults build walls; impenetrable circles where only a few get in. We must act our age. We must be responsible. We must never admit we feel like an eleven-year old boy walking around lost in a new school.
Today, while it’s true I never had any friends later on, like the ones I had when I was twelve, I am thankful for the ones I had, grateful for the few that remain, and hopeful that somehow the magic can be recaptured again, if only for a few moments.
To my friends, I cannot wait to spend eternity with you. Together, we will laugh endlessly and we won’t remember what it was like to be apart.