The old man sat alone on the bench and watched the family from a distance. Four of them picnicked in the center of the park, beneath a massive oak near a playground and a pond. The father’s tie hung loosely around his neck. His leather loafers and dress socks sat discarded on a nearby quilt. A shirttail escaped the back of his slacks as he ran barefoot through the grass and tackled a boy holding a football. A toddler in a princess dress cheered them on, her red curls bouncing as she jumped up and down.

Clouds were coming. Maybe rain. The old man felt it in his hands and knees. Across the lawn, the father chased his children, unaware of the weather ahead. In the shadow of the oak, the mother looked on and laughed, at least on the outside. The old man imagined her hidden tears as she wondered how on earth she would tell them about the tumor and the treatment and the time she might have left . . .

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