Photo brings comfort to woman mourning 'sweetie' killed in Oakland warehouse fire

Saya Tomioka lost her "sweetie" Griffin Madden in the Oakland warehouse fire. 

She was kissing Madden when a random photographer took their photo at a Broadway show last year. 

The photographer showed her the picture but she never had a copy. 

Earlier this week Tomioka posted on Facebook, "Some random photographer captured our kiss. I never got his name. 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 need some light right now. I need a reminder of the brightest light of all---love.”

KTVU's Frank Somerville posted the message on his Facebook page. It was shared more than 3,600 times. We also shared Tomioka's message on our Facebook page.  

The photo was taken by Arken Avan Photography. Avan tells KTVU he remembers all the faces he photographs. He remembers the couple as looking amazing and being funny. "Pretzel in Saya's hand and lipstick on his face. Really nice couple." 

Tomioka wrote on Facebook her memories of that night saying in part, "Then you tried to impress me by buying a NY pretzel and bargaining the seller to drop the price by a dollar. That was the most disappointing pretzel we've ever had; it tasted so bad! 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."

Through the power of social media Tomioka was directed to Avan. She gave him the date the photo was taken and he found in on a hard drive. 

After finding the photo, Tomioka said she sobbed in a friend's arms and then 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."

Tomioka posted on Facebook in part: 

"My sweetheart, there are a few things I want you to know: I am at peace. I loved you openly and endlessly from the moment I laid my eyes on you on my first day at UC Berkeley as a freshman.

I have no regrets.

I will miss you desperately; everyone who knew you will miss you just as much. Your light touched so so so many people, and you taught/will continue to teach us to live our lives just as fully, youthfully and kindly as you did.

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. With the brightest light and the greatest love,

Your sweetie chan

Yours always.

---Saya Tomioka"

Learn more about the victims of the Oakland warehouse fire here. 
 

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