Books come into lives for a reason

Reporter and Reporter

During the summer, I work part time at a supermarket in my hometown of Cincinnati. Sometimes I have a few minutes of relief between customer rushes, so I like to keep a book next to the cash register. A few weeks ago, one of our regular customers asked me about the book I was reading, “Same Kind of Different As Me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent.

“Do you like that book?” she asked.

“Yeah, it’s okay,” I responded. “I just found out it’s under the religion and spirituality category, and I’m not really a Joel Osteen type.”

She giggled and I smiled politely while trying to whisk her along. Behind her, there was a long line waiting.

“You know something?” she asked, as she slowly took her bags. A grumpy man behind her — firmly holding onto 20 Ohio Lottery tickets that he wanted me to check — was becoming visibly impatient.

“What’s that?” I said as I began using the Ohio Lottery machine to verify Mr. Grumpy’s losing Mega Millions numbers.

“I believe books come to us for a reason,” she said, eyes locked onto mine, completely oblivious to the world around us. “Finish the book.”

I was both scared and excited.

I finished the book a few weeks later. She was right. Whether it be God, the rhythm of life or what-have-you, there was a reason I picked up that book.

“Same Kind Of Different As Me” profiles the true, intersecting life stories of billionaire art seller Ron Hall and modern-day slave Denver Moore. That intersection lies within one person: Deborah Hall. Deborah’s husband is Ron — the billionaire art seller — and Deborah has an extremely tight bond with God.

Feeling called by God, Deborah drags Ron to a homeless shelter, where they meet a homeless Denver Moore. Ron and Denver strike up an unlikely friendship; a friendship that is life changing for the both

of them.

When Deborah is diagnosed with cancer, Denver reveals a tireless love and unyielding devotion for God. He prays through the night for Deborah’s remission. Without Denver’s compassion and God’s love, Deborah’s husband Ron wouldn’t have been able to get through watching his wife struggle with such a horrendous disease.

This is where the book became relevant to me.

About a year ago, a family friend was diagnosed with an extremely developed form of cancer. He was the gym teacher at my grade school and his daughter went to the University with me for a year. A few weeks ago, he passed away.

The death of a friend is tragic in itself; but for me, it was most jarring to see the suffering in his family’s eyes. How could they deal with such an inhumane, painful experience?

Last week, I worried I might need to learn how.

My dad has been having eye issues for a few weeks. He has seen three doctors and the third told us he needed to get an MRI.

“Well, what do you think it could be?” my mom nervously asked the

ophthalmologist.

“Multiple sclerosis,” he responded.

It’s an awful shame when someone you know is diagnosed with something scary. But the punch is on an extremely different level of potency when it’s within your immediate family. That hole in your heart is indescribable.

Since then, we’ve researched MS and we know that the disease is far from a death sentence. Almost half a million Americans walk around with MS every day and are doing just fine. We don’t know for sure if he has the disease; he has not been officially diagnosed with anything. We have to wait until the end of July for his appointment with the neurosurgeon. But if he does, we know it is extremely treatable.

“Same Kind of Different As Me” came at a time when I needed it.

As I said to my customer, I don’t usually buy books from the “Religion and Spirituality” category. But this one helped me learn about suffering, friendship and how we’re all connected.

Homeless Denver wrote in his accent, “The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this Earth ain’t no final restin’ place. So in a way, we is all homeless  — just workin’ our way toward home.”