A story with a familiar ring: Lost band found after months in deep snow

Sarah Johnson of Grand Junction holds the white gold engagement ring from the set she lost on the Grand Mesa during a snowball fight when there was five feet of snow on the ground. Her wedding ring has yet to be returned.

The thing is, snowballs are for throwing. What was she supposed to do, not throw it?

The minor rub in this scene is that Sarah Johnson wasn’t even throwing it at anyone. She, her husband, Matthew, and her dad, visiting from Illinois, were on a February drive across Grand Mesa — dad had requested a vista of deep, deep snow — when they stopped to see if the Grand Mesa Visitor Center was open.

Sarah hopped out of the car to check and saw that it wasn’t, so she grabbed a handful of snow to wash her hands. Which is how she ended up with the snowball.

The major rub in this scene, then, is that when she threw the snowball into the middle distance, her wedding and engagement rings went flying with it. And landed in more than 5 feet of snow.

As anyone who has ever lost anything in snow knows, the expression shouldn’t be “needle in a haystack,” but “tiny object in snow.” There was no finding those rings.

Obviously, this was a heartbreak. Matthew had given her the rings, which he chose to surprise her with, on the drive back to Illinois from visiting his parents in Iowa. At a rest stop on the state border, with the sun setting brilliant and the Mississippi River flowing languidly in the distance, Matthew asked, “Will you marry me?”

Sarah barely had time to say yes and swoon over the rectangle-cut diamond set in white gold before a rest stop security guard wheeled up and told them it was time to go because the stop was closing for the night.

That’s what Sarah, 31, thought about as she slumped dejectedly in the car that February day. As soon as they returned to their Grand Junction home, Sarah sent an email to the visitor center, explaining what happened and attaching photos she’d pulled from the Zales website.

And then, months of nothing.

She tried to remind herself that the rings were just things; she had the man. She had the memories of answering his posting on the “strictly platonic” section of Craigslist Aug. 28, 2011, in which he’d explained that he was in town for his job with the railroad and staying at the DoubleTree, and he just needed to get out or he’d go stir crazy.

She understood, because for several years she commuted between New York and Illinois, when she was working on implementing new document imaging software for special education programs in New York public schools. She knew the particular isolation of a hotel room.

So, she messaged Matthew and that evening they went for a walk in the woods that stretched into miles. By Christmas, she was meeting his parents and in January they made a deposit for Aug. 25, 2012, on the red barn at Hoosier Grove Park in Streamwood, Ill. Nothing was official until that day at the rest stop in April, of course, but they just knew.

Almost a year ago, with Matthew in a fine cowboy hat and Sarah with cowboy boots under her spaghetti-strap white gown, Matthew slipped a thin wedding band above the rectangle diamond and said, “I do.” Sarah slipped a similar band onto Matthew’s finger and said she did, too.

She had the photos and nothing could take those memories, but… it would have been nice to still have the rings on her finger.

And then, in June, the call: Someone, they didn’t know who, had put a rectangle-cut diamond ring into the mailbox at the visitor center. Was it hers?

Matthew drove up to check and knew from the shape of the diamond and the tiniest of black carbon flecks inside it that it was Sarah’s ring. He brought it home and slipped it onto her finger once again.

She’d been worried that the pregnancy — their baby is due in December — would make her fingers too big, but it fit just fine.

So, her ring is on her finger and her Matthew is at her side, and life is filled with the most miraculous of surprises.


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