Our time at EIU is coming to a close. When we moved here in 2012, I was so scared of living in a tiny town. Where there was no good places to eat and the closest Target was an hour away. I couldn't imagine raising my children in such a small community. But now... I'm looking back and I can't imagine the future without this small town.
It's hard to imagine not wearing blue on gamedays and helping my guard girls get ready in a classroom of Doudna. Fighting over hair bumps and straight or curly hair. Glitter or no glitter. Exploding hair spray bottles.
|Me and my Guard (and Twirler!) girls!|
It's going to be hard to not listen to the fight song echo through the campus as the Marching Band makes its way towards OBrien Stadium from Booth Library.
It's going to be tough to not have the university president excited to see the band and eagerly try his hand at conducting. It will be equally hard not seeing the smiles on the students faces knowing that the leader of their university cares so much about the school that he would wear a big blue wig and sit in the middle of the student section.
I'm not sure how to handle the idea of my children losing some of the freedoms that come with a close-knit community. Playing with all of the band kids and enjoying running over to bounce during the long second quarter. How the EIU Cheerleaders and Pink Panthers always took my girls in as one of their own.
I'm not going to have explain - for the hundredth time - that the words the band is singing is "You don't want to go to war, with the Panthers- don't start no stuff, there'll be no stuff" to people.
But the future and the past, at least for right now are very different. There are so many changes going on at EIU. The years we have been at Eastern can never be duplicated. It wouldn't be fair to hold the next director of EIU up to what we have done- because it's not fair for us to hold the students of Vanderbilt to the the students here at EIU. All we can take forward is the beauty of our memories and remember the good times.
While I know that there were some that didn't like the way things were handled at times, I feel like Corey, the girls and I always handled everything as well as we could. You can never make all of the people happy. I'm sure there are a select few that will believe that our departure will make things better- and perhaps they are right. Perhaps they misunderstood out goals and dreams for this band and these students that we have so loved. We will never change their minds. But that's okay. I'm not taking that baggage with me.
The moments we have had at EIU will always be so precious to me and that will ALWAYS hold near to my heart. While I still may not know every student by name, they called me Mama Francis, and that fills my heart with such joy and love. I wish each of you nothing but the best. There will never be another group of students that I love like the students I have met here in the last few years. Thank you. Thank you for becoming our family. Thank you for embracing our dreams. Thank you.