Young and in love, Saya Tomioka and her boyfriend Griffin Madden thought they had their whole lives ahead of them when they were photographed in Times Square. Then, at just 23 years old, Griffin became one of the 36 who died in an Oakland warehouse fire. And a Facebook plea reunited Oakland fire victim's girlfriend with the cherished photo she thought was lost forever!
Saya didn't have a copy of the Times Square photo. She didn't even know who took it. But with Griffin suddenly gone from her life, she knew she had to get her hands on it.
A Candid Moment Of Joy
The picture hadn't been planned. It was from a year ago, when Saya and Griffin had taken a trip together to New York City. The two were having a wonderful time. Giddy from all of the exciting sights and sounds, the two shared an affectionate kiss in Times Square after leaving a Broadway show.
A random photographer caught the wistful moment with his camera. Though he showed the picture to Saya and Griffin at the time, the two never got his name or contact information -- something Saya would later regret.
In her time of grief, Saya needed that photo. She needed a miracle. So, she turned to Facebook.
"I need some light right now. . . I need a reminder of the brightest light of all -- love." she wrote.
It seemed impossible. But after more than 400 shares, that desperate Facebook plea reunited Oakland fire victim's girlfriend with the mystery photographer!
Reunited With A Special Moment
The mystery man's name was Arken Avan. He's a professional photographer from Queens who regularly snaps candid photos of loving couples in the heart of the city. He's captured more than a hundred of these special moments. But he recognized Saya and Griffin immediately.
"I actually remember their faces because they really look so adorable," he said. "I saw her lipstick on his cheek and she was having a pretzel."
And just like that, the impossible became possible. In what many call a Facebook miracle, Saya finally had the cherished photo she feared was lost forever. And it brought her so much peace during such a difficult time.
"I have been hoping for a miracle, a glimpse of your light back into my life," she wrote on Facebook. "With the infinite help from our families, friends, and strangers, I finally found you. . . I've finally found you. I sobbed when I saw this photo in Thom's arms, and then, I immediately laughed uncontrollably. Life is so strange. I've lost you, but I've never felt stronger in my life. Through our many years of love and growth, I learned how to be strong from you."
Seeing so many strangers work together to help this grieving woman is truly inspirational!
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Matthew 5:4
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