JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–When a tornado ripped through her Union University residence hall Feb. 5, all freshman Hillary Bush could think about was her mother’s engagement ring.
The ring — a precious reminder of her mother, who died in May 2006 of breast cancer — was upstairs in a jewelry box when Bush and her roommate fled to their bathroom for safety during the storm.
“Immediately, when the tornado hit and we realized the ceiling and our upstairs room was destroyed, I began worrying if I would ever recover the ring,” Bush said. “I remember going home and talking to my dad about how I thought I had lost everything. My dad tried to reassure me that everything would be fine, and I finally stopped him in the middle of his encouragement and told him that mom’s ring was in the room.”
“It made me sick every time I thought about losing the ring,” she added. She had hoped to one day wear it as her own engagement ring.
Bush’s 13-year-old sister was even more devastated and worried.
“I had all of my mother’s jewelry because I did not want to give it to my 13-year-old sister yet,” Bush said. “I had planned on giving my sister some of my mother’s jewelry when she got older. So, when we thought I would not recover anything, my sister was upset at the thought of never receiving any of our mother’s jewelry.”
For two days, Bush contacted the National Guard, police officers and firefighters, hoping someone would have found the ring — but without success. Then, on Feb. 8, she received a voicemail from a friend saying a jewelry box similar to hers had been recovered. She immediately left her home in Huntingdon, Tenn., and drove to Union’s campus in Jackson, Tenn.
She found the jewelry box indeed was hers and, amazingly, was still perfectly intact.
“The jewelry box was a little dirty and beaten up on the outside, but the jewelry inside was untouched, ” Bush said, “I am amazed it was found because not much else was recovered [from my room], which is fine because I got all that really mattered.
“Everything else in my room was something that could be replaced, but there was no way of getting anything back of my mother’s,” she said. “That mattered the most to me.”
Claire Yates is a junior public relations student at Union University.