Crosses in the Median 

As a child, and a young adult living in North Carolina when I said the Beach I was talking about Myrtle Beach. I think that is the general opinion of anyone growing up in the Carolinas. However when I met Debbie Goodman in Columbus, GA and married her, some 25 years ago, her “Beach” was Panama City Beach, in the panhandle of Florida.  That became the destination of many trips to the beach after that. Jillian and Lee loved the beach wherever it was and Panama City Beach was no exception. But this story is more about the journey that the destination.

Between Columbus, GA and Dothan, AL is a stretch of US Highway 431 that until recently was two lane almost all the way. I have never been on a single highway with more little white crosses than this segment of road. Of course each little white cross represents a death along that highway. Some places there was only one. In a few places there were 3,4, or more all in a row standing silently as a testament to the danger of traveling this highway.

Jillian and Lee were maybe 12 and 10 years old when they started noticing the crosses and asking what they meant. I told them the story and every time we passed through that area they would say a little prayer for the lost loved one and that God would allow their family safe passage. On one trip they counted the crosses and I think they reached into the 30’s before we got to Dothan.

On another trip along that same highway we witnesses an accident in progress. When the mini van stopped flipping end over end and landed on it’s top, I along with several other travelers jumped out to help. We were able to get the sliding door open and in the back were two very young children stilled strapped into their car seats up side down. Other than scarred to death they were unhurt. We carefully unstrapped them and handed them out to safety. But the Mother was a different situation. We could not get her door open and the roof had her head pinned so we could not slide her out from the other side. Her airway was closed and she was running out of options by the time the EMS’s arrived and took over. She was transported the hospital but died the next day leaving two small children to grow up without there Mother. Jillian and Lee brought me the Panama City newspaper that morning with the accident results and we all cried and prayed for that family.

I thank God every day now that we had kids that had that compassion for others in need. This is part of what has driven Debbie and I to create this new journey in memory of Jillian and Lee.

I wonder if today there are people that came upon another accident on a Mothers Day afternoon in 2004 along interstate 185 near Lagrange, GA that are praying for our family. I know there were many that left the safety of their cars to run down into that median and try to help as best they could to save my kids. For all of those that tried and for all of those that prayed, we thank you from the bottom of our broken hearts.

Today if you travel Interstate 185 near Lagrange and see those two crosses, remember they represent two beautiful children that not so long before prayed for the others represented by crosses in the median.