Matt Cavallo was inspired by the song Moon Shadow to write his memoir

Being follow by a Moon Shadow (MS)

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The question of why I write has many layers. My first memories of writing date back to second grade. My mom was in a fight with my dad. She swore she was going to pack up and move to Vermont. As I sat and cried in my room, I took a pencil and blue wide-lined paper and wrote a story about a sad boy with no mommy. I placed it on her pillow and went back to my room to sleep.

The next morning before sunrise, my mom snuck into my room, woke me up and put me in the car. I don’t remember any spoken words on the drive to Gun Rock Beach in Hull, Massachusetts. All I remember is sitting on the beach wall and watching the sunrise for the very first time. My mom promised me then that she wouldn’t leave me dad. At that moment, I understood the power of written words.

Twenty years later, I sat behind the wheel of my Ford Ranger in a parking space near that same beach wall and looked towards the ocean. I was stunned by my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and still learning to walk again. I watched the wave’s crash on the beach sand and a man tossing the Frisbee to a black lab. I had wanted a dog for a long time, but didn’t think I should have one now that I was faced with a disabling disease.

Between the sound of the waves and the rhythm of the Labrador’s run, a song popped into the jukebox of my mind. It was a familiar song, one from my youth: Moon Shadow, by Cat Stevens. I started humming the lyrics to the chorus, but couldn’t remember the words. I needed to know why I was thinking about that song at that moment. I sped off towards my parent’s house and grabbed the Cat Steven’s Great Hits CD from their collection. I then got back in the truck and drove with Moon Shadow on repeat.

As the song played, I concentrated on the message behind the lyrics. The lyrics spun a story of a man who lost his legs, eyes, hands and mouth. It struck me that I could lose these same functions because of MS. I realized that the initials of Moon Shadow were MS. Then it hit me: I was being followed by a Moon Shadow. A wave of emotion hit me. I was too young to be disabled. There was so much I still wanted to accomplish in life. I felt lost and scared for what my future held.

As I listened to Moon Shadow for the seventh time straight, my mind led me back to that night that I lay in bed as a child listening to my parents fight. I felt connected to that little boy- afraid, vulnerable, and feeling like my world was crumbling around me. Then I remembered how the story I wrote had changed my mom’s life. I wanted to again capture my emotions in a way to could affect people’s lives. I grabbed a pencil and notebook with blue-lined paper and started transforming my personal diagnosis journal into, The Dog Story.

I knew the emotions that my writing could evoke. I wanted to share a heartfelt tale of struggle and overcoming these trials in my life. I thought it was important for others who are going through a similar struggle to have a story that they can relate to. The Dog Story is raw, revealing and honest to let the readers know that they are not alone in their struggles. Although not sugarcoated in any respect, The Dog Story is also about hope, the power of love, and finding strength in your darkest hour. I always say that we have eyes in the front of our head because we weren’t meant to look back. Embrace your future, because life is too short to stop living. If you are looking for inspiration for writing, my best advice is to stop. Inspiration is all around you. Look around, pause and take it in. Your moment could be the next song you hear on the radio.

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8 thoughts on “Being follow by a Moon Shadow (MS)

  1. I have always loved Moonshadow since the first time I heard it being played, when I was 8, on a record on my mother’s six-foot long stereo, in 1971. She had two of Cat Stevens albums, Teaser and the Firecat, and Tea For the Tillerman, and I loved both of them. Cat’s music and lyrics still move me to this day… You are right that one has only to look around to be inspired by so many sources. That is touching that, from a negative experience, you were inspired to learn to write at such an early age. Greatness emerges from adversity.

  2. Wow, whatever you wrote there is just so beautiful. I have to agree with the Multiple Sclerosis matters, because when I was diagnose, i thought my life was over, but I guess, maybe it’s a start of something new. Currently, with my nystagmus problem, I manage to face everything that’s around me. Life have to go on. Smile, and yes, as a writer, even though you’re blind, or can’t speak anymore, you will still have something written in your heart. 🙂

  3. Wow! That is quite the story you’re telling, Matt. It sure hits home for me, especially the Cat Steven song.
    I was diagnosed in 1994 and lived a fairly normal life until 2005, when my husband and dad passed away within a day of eachother. I have three children, and my youngest is going on 17 this year. I’m at the stage where the legs don’t hold up and I had to quit my retail job. Its been a long and challenging winter with lots of pain in the leg muscles, especially after eating. My diet is very healthy, but I need to exersice more. I have beautiful friends and I decided this month, that I will watch the negative thinking and start smiling again 🙂
    and start appreciating what I still CAN do!

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