- Economy reporter Lameez Omarjee lost her engagement ring on the same day she said yes.
- With multiple interventions from kind strangers, Lameez eventually found the ring.
- Throughout this ordeal, she and her fiancé learnt that a ring is only a symbol and not the actual commitment.
- Here's her story.
When you get engaged, you don’t really anticipate losing your engagement ring - on the very same day. So when it happened to me, both my fiancé and I were in utter disbelief.
"It doesn't make sense," were his words. Meanwhile, I kept replaying scenes in my head leading up to the moment it slipped off my finger, blaming myself and then justifying that it could have happened to anyone.
In between it all, we learnt valuable life lessons.
Was I surprised when he asked? Yes.
I joined Philip and his family on a glamping trip at one of the Wolfkop Camping Villages near the town of Citrusdal, in the Western Cape. We had gone kayaking on the Olifants River and later joined the rest of the party in taking pictures. Well, that's what I thought we were doing - until I was told to join Philip on a jetty for a couple's picture. I was still trying to steady myself on the jetty when he got down on one knee and then it hit me - the proposal was happening.
I didn’t hesitate to say yes. We were both shaking through it all - but I guess that is because our bodies couldn’t contain our joy.
He asked me if I liked the ring - and I told him that didn't matter (I did like the ring). He also asked if the ring fit - I thought it did.
We had a lovely afternoon, enjoying mountain views and clear skies.
As we were outdoors, there were bugs and I remember swatting away flies, with my left hand. Caught in the moment of just trying to shoo them away, I felt my ring slide off my finger (almost in slow motion). I had enough time to turn to Philip and shout "The ring!" before I heard a distant "ping".
At this point, you should know that we were standing along a riverbank when it happened. But because I didn't hear a "plop" I convinced myself that the ring landed in the grass.
Immediately Philip and I started searching for anything that glistened in the grass. His family rushed over to help. At one point Philip even jumped in the river, but it was difficult to spot anything without goggles.
We were racing against the sunset and eventually we had to pause the search until the next day because it got too dark. It wasn't how I imagined the day I would get engaged would play out. The joy we had was robbed by the most bizarre situation.
It was difficult to get through the evening, we couldn’t really eat. We played board games to try to distract ourselves. It was still a beautiful evening, sitting around the campfire with people who love us and supported us through the excitement of a proposal and then the anxiety of losing a ring.
Philip and I quickly realised what was most valuable, and that's not something material like a ring but the commitment we had made to each other earlier that day. Our parents also shared comforting words, which helped give us perspective on the situation. The lost ring represented future crises we would face in our new life together - and we were getting a glimpse of how we would respond to challenges. There was a lot of praying involved, to find the ring and to be at peace with whatever the outcome would be.
Our search resumed early the next day. We decided to ask the campsite staff for help. That's when we were put in touch with Sheldon - who had snorkelling gear and was prepared to search for the ring in the river.
We explained to him what happened - and he reckoned we needed a metal detector. Fortunately for us, Sheldon knew someone with a metal detector who agreed to help us.
We were getting hopeful.
When the guy with the metal detector arrived he combed the same grassy areas we did - and he found a lot of bottle caps and steel rods. My hope was quickly fading. Sheldon meanwhile was snorkelling in the river, picking up stones under water. He eventually resurfaced without the ring, and apologised. That's when Phil and I started accepting we might leave the campsite without the ring.
Sheldon, however, didn't give up and he took over metal detector duties. I was still preparing for the worst outcome. The metal detector was going crazy. I don't know how it happened, but before I knew it - Sheldon was holding out the ring! It had been tucked in the grass all along, near a spot we hardly thought to look.
Philip and I were relieved.
Sheldon was our new hero and first official wedding guest. We were blown away by his kindness and how he persistently searched for the ring as if it were his own. He was a complete stranger who went out of his way to help us.
Philip and I both learnt to be more open to asking for help from people. People will surprise you. They can be kind and you have to take a risk of letting your walls come down to discover that.
We also agreed that the ride back to Cape Town, without the ring, would have been much harder. We are beyond grateful it was found and our joy was restored, 10-fold!
We plan to return to the Wolfkop campsite at least once a year because it has marked such an important point in our relationship. Apart from losing the ring, it was really peaceful and a great break from the city. Next time we plan to go hiking (ring not included).
Lameez Omarjee is an economy reporter at Fin24, part of Media24.
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