HARRISONBURG, Va (WHSV) — When his apartment building caught fire in Harrisonburg, one man thought he'd lost something extremely important — it was so small that even if it wasn't destroyed, he thought it'd never be found.
But three weeks later, he was in for the surprise of his life.
After Patrick Vigna heard his apartment was on fire, there was only one thing on his mind.
"My grandparents' wedding rings are on my wall," he said. "My grandparents passed away nine and 10 years ago. My dad gave them to me when I moved to college, and he handed them to me, and he said 'I trust you, and I want them to be with you while you're in college.'"
Vigna says he and his roommates tried to lighten the mood in the days following the fire because thinking about the things they lost that could never be replaced was too much to bare.
"We made jokes about the things that we didn't really care about losing," he said. "Like my roommate said 'I'm really upset about losing my panini press,' and we all had a good laugh about that."
The apartment complex hired a restoration company and asked residents to request the things they wanted them to look for.
Patrick wrote a letter asking them to look for quite a few things — including his grandparents' rings, a shell casing from his grandfather's 21-gun salute, his grandmother's rosary, and his two baseball bats.
"I went three weeks, and I just thought everything was gone," he said. "I didn't think anything was going to be there anymore. I came to grips with it. The day that it happened, I called my dad, and I apologized for losing the rings."
Then he got a call from a woman who works at the apartment complex.
"And she said 'me and the maintenance crew of the buildings were moved by your letter, so we went up there and spent as long as we could, and we found three rings.'"
Patrick said never in his life had he felt as happy as he did in that moment.
"I didn't know what to say, I couldn't speak," he said, "and I was like... 'those are my rings!' And she looked at me, and she was like, 'are those really yours?' And I was like, 'these are my grandparents wedding rings.'"
He was speechless.
"I looked at her and said, 'I'll never, ever be able to say thank you enough for what this means to me and what these rings mean to me.' And then she said 'well, we found some more stuff.'"
They not only had found the shell casing from his grandfather's 21-gun salute, but also a photo of him and his dad that withstood the fire and the water as firefighters tried to put out the flames.
"I just... it was the most miraculous feeling," Vigna said. "It was something I do not think I will ever feel again, and if I never do, I'm OK with that."