Internet helps woman find lost photo of her and boyfriend killed in Oakland fire

One of the best things in this digital age is the internet coming together to help a stranger in a time of need. And for this woman trying to find a photo of her boyfriend who died in the Oakland fire, the internet delivered. Saya Tomioka’s boyfriend, Griffin Madden, was one of the 36 people who lost their lives in the Oakland warehouse fire. After his death, Tomioka began searching for a picture of the two of them kissing in Times Square taken in June 2015.

Since she didn’t know the photographer’s identity, however, she reached out to the good people of the internet (yes, there are some) with an appeal on social media. In a touching Facebook post, she wrote: “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.” She continued, “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.”

The post got several hundred shares on Facebook, one of which made it to Arken Avan, the photographer who took the picture in question. “I actually remembered their faces because they really looked so adorable….I saw her lipstick on his cheek and she was having a pretzel that time when I photographed them,” he told ABC.

He posted the Times Square photo on Tomioka’s Facebook page, which sparked a special thank-you to Avan for connecting with her and a heartfelt memorial to the love she shared with Madden:

“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.

Remember sweetie? We spent the whole night laughing our asses off during The Book of Mormon on Broadway…Then we walked to Times Square. I can still feel the rush of life from that very moment. The lights filled my heart with excitement; the massive number of people energized every fiber of my being. And right beside me was my best friend, my brightest love.

…Your love for me echos through all the support I have been receiving from our friends and family. I am surrounded by the most beautiful, endless love from the people who love you….I promise you that I will never stop dancing; I’ll dance even harder. I will never stop laughing; I’ll laugh even louder. I will never stop loving; I’ll love even prouder.”

It’s moments like these that remind us true love is real. As we close out this wreck of a year, hold on to them and remember goodness still exists in the world.