Nothing will erase her memory of the boyfriend she lost in the devastating Oakland warehouse fire.
Saya Tomioka now has a keepsake of their time together, thanks to the collective power of strangers.
It was a year ago when Tomioka and her boyfriend, Griffin Madden, took a trip to New York City to take in the sights, sounds and see a Broadway show. A photographer in Times Square took their photo, but the couple left New York without getting a copy.
Madden, 23, was among the 36 who died in the fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland last week.
After the news of his death, Tomioka took to social media to find the photo.
On Sunday, she posted on Facebook: “Maybe some facebook miracle could happen…. please share…Friends, possibly with your help, I can be reunited with this photograph, this treasured memory that I’ll always keep in my heart. I need some light right now. I need a reminder of the brightest light of all — love.” Her post was shared more than 300 times.
The post made it to Arken Avan, a professional photographer from Queens who has taken hundreds of pictures of loving couples in the heart of the city.
“Two people shared with me that post: Saya’s friend Liz Baqir and one of my NYPD friends, Sgt. Dan Hussey,” Avan told CNN.
“I actually remember their faces because they really look so adorable,” Avan told CNN affiliate WABC. “I saw her lipstick on his cheek and she was having a pretzel.”
On Thursday, Tomioka shared the precious moment Avan was able to capture on her Facebook page, saying, “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.”
“Photography in general is like a time machine you know. It is a very sad moment, but I hope she will keep this photograph as a memory, because, you know, we don’t live forever,” Avan told WABC.