As Matt Waters frantically sifted through the ashy remains of his family’s birth certificates and social security cards inside his safe, he found his and his wife’s wedding rings. It’s the only thing on his Santa Rosa property that survived the Tubbs Fire.
Jennifer Waters, 31, birthed their second child on October 8. The Waters lost their home on the ninth. After bouncing around to nearby relative’s houses, only to have to leave again for safer ground, they were able to make their way back to their home a few days after evacuating.
While driving back to where his home once stood, the rings were on Matt Waters’ mind, though he didn’t expect them to be there. “The safe was fire rated, but no safe is built to survive what it went through,” said Waters, a wounded veteran who served in the Marines. “It went through a firestorm and then sat in a bed of coals for a couple days.”
And when Matt, 33, located the safe, he flew right past the still-smoldering miscellaneous objects and searched until he spotted a ring-resembling object and “immediately felt hope.”
“I grabbed the ring and had joy and relief run through my body,” Waters said. “It just made me so happy to know that I could bring my wife something after we just lost everything.”
Jennifer Waters had removed her ring after the pregnancy caused her hands to swell, and Matt Waters took his off when he put hers in the safe. He was wearing a silicon band at the time when they had to evacuate. And while Matt Waters has voiced that material objects mean nothing in comparison to his family being safe, the find was uniquely special to the couple.
Because not only was it a symbol of their marriage, and the only left in the rubble, but the ring was passed down from Matt Water’s great grandmother, who was married to Matt Waters great grandfather – a former Fire Chief in Ohio.
“When Matt got back and handed me my wedding ring, I was filled with happiness that I at least had this one thing that was a symbol of our love for each other,” Jennifer Waters said. “I cried of joy and hugged my husband tight.”