California’s Camp Fire has brought destruction to a number of families and homes throughout Paradise. But it’s a story about love, and a miracle engagement ring, that is bringing a speck of hope into the lives of those affected.
Nick Maes, 26, had lived at his family home in Butte County for 20 years before recently seeing it burnt to ashes by the tragic wildfire. Among the many things that he and his family lost with the house, there was just one Maes couldn’t let go of — an engagement ring that he planned to propose to his girlfriend with. After he went back to look for it, without her knowledge, Shastina Hughes was in for quite a surprise.
The 35-year-old nurse tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she was working a night shift at the Enloe Medical Center in Chico on Wednesday night when Maes told her that he had an opportunity to see his parents house.
“I knew he was going up there and was probably going to be on the local news,” Hughes says, “but I had no idea what he was really looking for.”
It wasn’t until Hughes went into the break room with some co-workers in the middle of the night to look at updates about the fire that she stumbled upon a sweet story of a man finding an engagement ring in the rubble. She clicked on the KCRA story hoping to bring some happiness into the otherwise dismal hospital and was shocked to discover just who the man was.
“Reading through it, I was in disbelief to see Nick’s name!” Hughes says. “Nick had sent me a picture of his parent’s fine china that they use for the holidays, so I thought that was what he was able to find.”
Luckily, when she found out that his discovery was more precious than that, Hughes’s house supervisor picked up her phone to capture a video of her reaction.
After two years of dating, Hughes says that she and Maes have always been open about planning their future together. He had even told her that he would be asking her a “very important question” by the end of the year. Still, finding out that he had already secured a ring and had asked all of their family members came as a pleasant surprise.
“I’m difficult to surprise,” Hughes wrote, “this surprised me for sure!”
Admittedly, there’s work to be done on the recovered diamond ring that has melted around a bullet shell. But Hughes says she’d accept it in any condition, as long as Maes is fully prepared to propose.
“I want him to be able to have his moment,” she says. “Some guys work so hard to plan that special question. I don’t want to ruin it for him. I’m trying my best to just let him do him.”
In the meantime, Hughes is just happy to see the impact their love story has made on others.
“I’m so happy that our story can be the light in the darkness and people’s glimmer of hope,” she says. “Our story is not just for us, but it’s for our whole community.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
• ‘Way to steal her thunder’: Man’s proposal to girlfriend mid-marathon has social media up in arms
• Man finds wife’s wedding ring in ashes of home that burned down in devastating California wildfire
• Bride’s wedding dress saved before home tragically burned down in California’s Camp Fire