FOOTHILL RANCH (CBSLA) — Orange County teen and college student Blaze Bernstein was murdered earlier this month.
His parents are coping with indescribable loss and pain.
To honor their 19-year-old son’s memory, his parents spoke today to CBS2’s Michele Gile in a story that is Only On 2.
Blaze’s body was found in a shallow grave at Borrego Park in Foothill Ranch. He’d been reportedly stabbed 20 times by Sam Woodward, a former high school friend now accused of being a member of an anti-Semitic hate group.
His parents spoke to Gile at the park where their son’s body was found. and where a growing memorial for their boy is giving them some solace.
“We lost something very good,” said Blaze’s mother, Jeanne Pepper Bernstein, “We all did.”
“He was our promise for the future,” said his dad, Gideon.
The parents and Gile spent much of their time together reading messages of support left at the scene by family, friends and strangers.
His parents revealed a scholarship has been set up in his name. A public memorial is also planned for next month.
They said they continue to see their son in their dreams and in all the good things people are doing in his name.
“It just doesn’t seem like it could be real,” said mom. “Even still, a month later, I’m still not able to accept it.”
Being at the site where he died is tough, of course, for his parents.
“It’s bittersweet,” said his mom, “I see a lot of, beautiful rocks that have been left here, in Jewish tradition, that’s the best way to honor someone when you visit their grave. But it’s also very sad for us… of course. We don’t want to be here for this reason.”
An outpouring of support has come to the parents from around the world and it hasn’t stopped.
The park continues to be a place where people come to grieve for Blaze. His father old Gile that he thought it would be harder coming to the park than it was.
“And I don’t feel anything except a lot of prayers and people reaching out to our family. We see rocks from all over the world here. It’s amazing.”
Jeanne repeated her belief that she thought her son was killed because he was gay.
“We loved him exactly the way he was,” she said, “I would not have changed one thing. And we stand behind that and we stand behind all people. And we would love to see a more tolerant world.”
A movement, people doing good things for others in Blaze’s memory, has formed — #DoGoodForBlaze has gone viral. That support has given the parents tremendous strength.
But they told Gile before they go to sleep every night, “Well, first we cry,” said Blaze’s dad. “And then we ask ourselves why?”
Jeanne concurs. “Why. Why…why. We don’t know that we will ever understand. So we have to figure out how to go forward. And try to remember the good. There was a lot of good.”
The public memorial — #BlazeItForward — is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 25, 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. Tickets are free. More information is available at the Seerstrom site and at BlazeBernstein.org.