Saya Tomioka's boyfriend Griffin Madden was one of the 36 people who died tragically in the Oakland warehouse fire on December 2. Tomioka's grieving led her to search for a photo of she and Madden on a trip to New York City that she knew existed somewhere, although she'd never had it in her possession. And with the help of social media and a little bit of luck, Tomioka found the picture she so badly wanted.
In a post on Facebook, Tomioka wrote,
Maybe some facebook miracle could happen....please share
This morning I remembered the first time I went to Times Square, June 16 of 2015. Griffin and I just finished watching The Book of Mormon on Broadway. I remember tears swelling my eyes because the city was so beautiful and amidst all the lights, I got to look at the brightest light of all, my sweetie. I cried, and we kissed. Some random photographer captured this very moment, this very kiss.... I never got his name, and he just simply showed us the single beautiful snap shot that he was able to capture.
I've always longed to find this particular photograph and thank the photographer.... Friends, possibly with your help, I can be reunited with this photograph, this treasured memory that I'll always keep in my heart. I don't even know if it's possible, but please share this status if you think it is. I need some light right now.... I need a reminder of the brightest light of all---love. Thank you for those sending us love and prayers, I hear you and I feel you. Our community mourns. I love you, gg, my sweetie chan.
Her post was shared more than 430 times, and eventually found it's way to Arken Avan, the stranger who'd taken the picture of the happy couple in June 2015 in Times Square, who gladly posted the picture on Tomioka's Facebook wall.
Speaking to ABC News, Avan said,
I actually remembered their faces because they really looked so adorable. I photograph couples, I love couples. I photograph everything romantic, everything about love. I saw her lipstick on his cheek and she was having a pretzel that time when I photographed them.
Tomioka was overjoyed to finally be able to view the memory she treasured, a moment in time captured by a stranger.
In part of a heartbreaking post on Facebook, Tomioka wrote, "I have been hoping for a miracle, a glimpse of your light back into my life. With the infinite help from our families, friends, and strangers, I finally found you."