Undying love: Oakland fire victim's girlfriend tracks down special photo

Precious memento

OAKLAND -- Griffin Madden and his girlfriend Saya Tomioka loved to dance on rooftops and in nightclubs. But just before midnight on December 2, the dancing stopped. 

Madden was trapped inside the massive warehouse fire in Oakland, California.

Thirty-six people died including Madden. Tomioka was not there.  

In her grief, she remembered a moment the two shared in New York City last year. 

They had just seen “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. On Facebook she wrote: “...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.”

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  Griffin Madden and his girlfriend Saya Tomioka kiss in NYC.    Arken Avan 

A photographer nearby captured the moment. Tomioka’s red lipstick still on Madden’s cheek.

“They looked like nobody else exists,” the photographer said. 

Arken Avan took the photo. 

It was one of 200,000 he’s taken on the streets of New York. But for Tomioka, this became everything. 

After the fire, she tried to track down the photographer to get a copy. 

“Maybe some Facebook miracle could happen...please share,” she wrote. 

Thousands of people did. Avan saw the posts and sent the picture.

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Arken Avan.  CBS News

“I can give her this picture as a memory of her love, for Griffin, and I hope she will keep that forever,” he said. 

Tomioka is not ready to talk about her loss, but she did write a tribute to Madden. 

“I have been hoping for a miracle, a glimpse of your light back into my life,” she said. “With the infinite help from our families, friends, and strangers, I finally found you.” 

And in this moment in NYC -- where time will always stand still -- she never has to let go.