Shawn Sangster’s gold and diamond ring matched one that belonged to his wife.
But after his tragic death, this ring disappeared.
Now his widow Natalie Brenson-Sangster hopes the shining symbol of their love will eventually appear.
Natalie and her husband said their “yes” in the first year of the pandemic on September 12, 2020 – the same day they celebrated Natalie’s parents’ 56th wedding anniversary.
“We had to change our church plans, and the big ballroom and all that,” Natalie said.
“We ended up having a beautiful ceremony with just our family and very close friends outside our house, and celebrating my mom and dad at the same time, so it was a wonderful day.”
Natalie and Shawn were born six months apart and have known each other since growing up in New Harbour, Nova Scotia. Natalie was raised in a military family and moved around a lot, but she considered the small coastal community her home.
To her, Shawn has always been a friendly and familiar face.
“Every time we drove down the aisle, he was just across the yard waiting with this beautiful smile,” Brenson-Sangster said.
“We would head to the beach and spend our days looking for sea glass and jellyfish and shells…That was always my kind of anchor, to be there and know it would be there.”
The friends broke up as adults and married other people. But almost ten years ago, they met at a ball and it sparked a romance. At the time, both were in their early 40s and single.
“When we were children… my [grandparents] always said… ‘You and Shawn are going to end up together. And we were kind of like, ‘Ew,'” she said.
“It was kind of like, ‘Hey, why didn’t we do this sooner?’… Since he was a kid, he hasn’t changed. Every day was just a joy to know that you’re going to spend the day with that person.”
“I knew he was gone”
Shawn has been an electrician for over 30 years and most recently worked as a wiring inspector for Nova Scotia Power. On the morning of January 24, he wore his wedding ring as he prepared for work at the couple’s Donahue Lake, Nova Scotia.
“He was teasing, you know, doing his usual thing,” Brenson-Sangster said. “We usually talk several times during the day until he comes home.”
After checking in around 2:30 p.m. local time, Natalie thought it was odd that she hadn’t heard from him. Shortly after, she received a phone call from someone telling her that there had been an accident.
Shawn had suffered a cardiac arrest while driving through Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia, but managed to pull his truck off the road.
First responders treated the 53-year-old along the city’s busy Reeves Street before taking him by ambulance. Natalie then called the hospital for more details and headed out the door with friends.
“We didn’t know Shawn had heart disease. In fact, I was the one with heart disease,” she said. “I had a heart attack in 2019, so everything had been focused on my health.
“AT [5:30 p.m. AT] the doctor at the hospital called me and told me he died at four o’clock. And I knew at four o’clock when I was getting ready to leave the house. I knew he was gone. I just knew it. And it was the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
The ring was not found
Shawn wasn’t wearing his wedding ring in the hospital, nor was it among his belongings found in the bag given to his family, like the Fitbit he wore to track his steps or the nuts and bolts he hid in his pockets. .
Natalie asked her husband’s medical team to be on the lookout for the missing ring, while the truck he regularly drove was combed through, but nothing was found.
She suspects Shawn may have removed the ring during the emergency and placed it on the truck seat.
After sharing a message on Facebook about the missing ring, Natalie heard from one of the people who helped Shawn on the road that day.
He said when they were helping Shawn, some of his stuff was scattered around, but everything was picked up.
“It’s a small thing and in the panic of pulling someone out and trying to save their life – it’s a ring – it could have rolled anywhere. It could have fallen anywhere “, said Natalie.
It was the only ring Shawn had ever worn in his entire life. Most often it was hidden in the small pocket on the front of jeans designed to hold pocket watches.
Natalie said she hasn’t been able to cross the Canso Causeway to Port Hawkesbury since her husband’s death, but hopes the ring could reappear in the spring when all the snow and ice has melted.
She said the ring contained about seven or eight small diamonds, but no distinct markings such as engraving.
“There are so many people who tell me that they walk in this area every day and are continually looking for this ring,” she said.
“And it would mean everything to me if he came back, and I could put it with his urn and his picture, because getting married was so important to us. It was a dream come true for both of us.”