The Girlfriend of an Oakland Fire Victim Was Reunited With This Long-Lost Photo, Thanks to Strangers
In the wake of the tragic fire in Oakland, CA, one woman was left clinging to the memories of her late boyfriend. Saya Tomioka's 23-year-old boyfriend, Griffin Madden, was among the 36 victims who lost their lives in the Ghost Ship blaze. In an effort to keep his memory alive, Saya looked to social media to help her rediscover a cherished photo of the two kissing in Times Square that she hadn't seen since their trip two Summers prior.
She posted a status on Facebook to spread the word about her endeavor to track down the precious photo, urging her friends to share the post. "I've always longed to find this particular photograph and thank the photographer," she wrote. "Friends, possibly with your help, I can be reunited with this photograph, this treasured memory that I'll always keep in my heart."
What she asked for was a "Facebook miracle," and that miracle came true. More than 400 people shared her post, which ultimately made its way to the man who snapped the picture, photographer, Arken Avan of New York.
"I actually remembered their faces because they really looked so adorable," Arken told ABC. "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," he continued. Upon seeing the photo for the first time, Saya admitted that she sobbed and then "immediately laughed uncontrollably," recalling distant memories with her late boyfriend.
She returned to Facebook to write the above post and express her gratitude for those who helped uncover the photo. "Life is so strange. I've lost you, but I've never felt stronger in my life," she wrote. "Through our many years of love and growth, I learned how to be strong from you." We can't help but admire Saya's immense strength in light of tragedy. It's social media miracles like these that restore our faith in humanity.