Denny and Susan McCready are a young couple whose newborn son has cystic fibrosis. They take him home to the farm, where they live with Denny's father. For several months Denny can barely bring himself to touch the baby, because he is afraid to develop too close a relationship with a child condemned to an early death.

After the boy dies, the grief-stricken Susan drifts away from her husband, finally leaving the farm and moving into town. Denny, too, is lost. He buys a small boat--something his father always objected to--and cruises on the river. One day Susan returns. "I want to come home," she says. (p. 196) "I sometimes think that all of us out here just gave up a little early." (p. 204) They endure.


This story explores the impact of a fatally ill child on a young family. Dennis struggles to love the baby, thus setting himself up for the pain of loss. Susan, whose unconditional love cannot save her son, finds the pain so overwhelming that she cannot continue with her former life. Each parent searches for a new mooring, for a reason to remain alive. As the long process of bereavement comes to a close, they find each other.

Primary Source

The Way People Run


Random House

Place Published

New York



Page Count