In the past two months, Penn has watched as the story surrounding the death of College sophomore Blaze Bernstein unfolded on a national stage. Amid the reports of his death and the consequent arrest of his alleged killer, Sam Woodward, friends of Bernstein have helped each other find ways to mourn the 19-year-old student and honor who he was.
This past weekend, friends and family of Blaze gathered on campus to celebrate him for his compassion, unique sense of humor, and his love of food.
For the first time since his death, his parents and two siblings visited Penn to attend a memorial at the Kelly Writers House, talk to friends, and pack up the belongings he left behind in his apartment at 4111 Walnut St.
The Daily Pennsylvanian spent some time with the Bernsteins during their stay and documented items in the apartment Blaze left before returning home to California for the last time.
Blaze spent much of his time in the kitchen trying new recipes and revising old dishes for his family and friends. For the student, food was a way to bring loved ones and even strangers together. Among those in the food magazine Penn Appetit, Blaze was one of the only members involved in both the editorial side and the cooking side.
Blaze's kitchen cabinets were stacked with spices and ingredients, likely for one of his original recipes. Bernstein had also begun canning his own food — one of his latest projects, his parents said.
In the fridge, a large jar filled with Kombucha tea that he had begun fermenting last semester sat on the shelf. He tracked his progress on a bulletin board that he labeled "Kombucha Calendar." On the same board, he hung a poster that read "The Dough Also Rises" — a play off Ernest Hemingway's novel, "The Sun Also Rises."
Blaze's love for La Croix was on display in his nearly-bare apartment. As they packed up his belongings, the Bernstein family made their way through cans of the drink which were stacked in the fridge.
During Thanksgiving last year, Blaze staged a mock wedding ceremony with a homemade La Croix bride, who sat elegantly on the counter in his apartment. The bride can was draped in a carefully crafted white paper gown with an intricate veil to match.
As the Bernsteins made their way through the items in the room, some of Blaze's favorite tools were placed on his desk. Next to a cup of colorful pens and markers sat a grey box with the name "Blaze" written squarely on top — a gift from "Dad & Mom."
In his bedroom, Blaze had left a to-do list on his mirror. His parents decided to leave it as is.
Little by little, the apartment grew more bare as the Bernstein family put away the tools, letters, and gifts that Blaze kept in his home in West Philadelphia.
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