A woman spreading her mom’s ashes on a beach was surprised when her boyfriend, who was filming the moment, suddenly got down on one knee and proposed.
Vanessa Doleshal, 35, from Las Vegas, Nevada, had no idea her boyfriend Zak Zito, 39, had planned the sweet proposal, covering her mouth in shock as he presented her with the ring.
The moment took place on a beach in Cefaul, Sicily, where Vanessa was continuing an ongoing tribute of spreading the ashes of her mom, who died in tragic circumstances.
Vanessa’s mom, Donna, 62, died in May 2022 when she and the family were dirt bike riding in the desert near Las Vegas.
Donna – who loved extreme sports like sky diving, dirt biking, water skiing, BMXing, and snowboarding – crashed when the family was returning to base camp and never regained consciousness.
The moment crushed the family, Vanessa said, but going forward, she was determined to honor her mom and “best friend,” with whom she loved to travel.
Vanessa decided to continue taking her mom’s ashes with her wherever she went, spreading them in different locations.
In the months since Donna’s passing, Vanessa had spread her mom’s ashes under a tree in her backyard in Park City, Utah; Hollywood, Florida; and, lastly, in Sicily, Italy, where Vanessa and Zak were on a 10-day holiday.
The surprise occurred on September 13, with Vanessa heading down to the beach and continuing a tradition she and her mom also had of writing the name of the location and the year of their travels in the sand.
The family has dozens of these kinds of shots, Vanessa said, and as she did so again, the 35-year-old had no idea what was coming next, with Zak waiting for the moment to play out before asking the big question.
Vanessa said the moment made her “ugly cry,” and she later shared the video on her social media channels, hoping to inspire others.
She said: “Mom lived more life in 62 years than most do in three lifetimes.
“I truly felt like Mom was there with us. It was so special.
“Zak speaks Italian, so I loved that he proposed in Italian. My Dad was my first FaceTime Call to share the good news, and he was so happy for us.
“Dad lost his father just a few months after mom died, so it’s been a rough summer for Dad.
“It was so lovely to see a big smile on his face following so much sadness as my mom and dad celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary just one week before she died.
“When I was spreading the ashes, it was bittersweet.
“I was sad for obvious reasons, but I also chose to see the moment’s beauty, so I was joyful.
“I was grateful to be in such a beautiful place, sending bits of mom out into the sea and sharing it with Zak.
“In a way, it felt like saying goodbye while treasuring our traditions. Beautiful, but sad.
“The proposal felt like the extreme phases: shock, sappy love, and excitement – hence the ugly cry face. We spent all night happy-crying at dinner and walking around the city in pure joy.
“I couldn’t stop staring at the ring! I left like I was living a fairy tale. It could not have been more sincere, romantic and perfect.”