SOUTH ST. PAUL, Minn. - For a kid camp is a summer rite of passage.
At Camp Erin in Willow River, about 60 kids are roughing it for the first time.
But at least at this camp, with other kids who have it just as rough as they do.
Camp Erin is a grief camp for children who have suffered the death of a family member or close friend.
"My mom's favorite color was purple so I'm drawing purple," 6-year-old Arbor Taylor explained as he decorated a picture frame that would soon hold a photo of he and his mom, Amy Taylor.
Amy Taylor died four years ago from breast cancer.
She was 34-years-old.
Arbor attended the camp with his 8-year-old sister, Isabella.
We first introduced you to Arbor and Isabella Taylor in the summer of 2008 when Amy was still alive.
Back then we told you about Amy's battle with the disease and how she would leave a legacy for her children, but even then, the beginnings of Amy's ending were starting to show.
It was impossible, back then, to really imagine what now would look like until it came.
"You know I just try to be a mommy and a daddy all at once," Warren Taylor, Amy's widowed husband told us.
Any single parent will tell you it's hard.
An 8 and a 6-year-old sap all the energy out of two people, leave it to the power of one and it's a delicate dance.
But that reality to be for Warren wasn't lost on Amy in the last days of her life.
It is what propelled her to find a way to stay with them even after she had to go.
Amy recorded messages for her children and Warren on a video camera and left dozens of them before she died.
She recorded a message for Arbor's 16th birthday, for Isabella's wedding and everything in between.
"I want you to know that in those times you are really struggling I am going to be with you because I love you; I am not going to leave you," Amy said in a message she recorded about wanting to stay with them in moments when they were feeling down.
But those recorded moments aren't something the kids and Warren have to turn to often, because, they remember her daily in one another's stories.
"They saved my life, these kids save my life every day," Warren said of the kids.
This little family lost immeasurably when Amy died but it also won a strength none of them knew possible.
They still laugh, they still joke they still love.
It isn't at all a stretch to say you can sit ten minutes in the Taylor living room without one of the kids getting a hug from dad or vice versa.
"We are kind of affectionate in our family," Warren said, as the kids piled on top of him for hugs.
And Amy is there too in a way, she's in the artwork on the wall, the coffee cups she picked out.
"There probably isn't anything in here that is not specifically put with a lot of intention to help us keep sanctuary," Warren said of the things in the home they shared.
She isn't just somewhere, she's everywhere.
But where she most often comes to life is in the kids.
"She definitely is her mother when she takes in the world," Warren said of Isabella's wisdom when she reflects about life.
Amy is evident in Isabella's shyness and Arbor's gregariousness.
"Honestly it's bittersweet for me sometimes," Warren said of those things, and, of the moments the children do things they could have only picked up from Amy.
But other times, they do go to the place where they can see her.
They do watch those videos she left behind.
"We do watch the videos, but only, when it's intuitively right," Warren said.
They hold so many precious moments, but they are, especially for the kids difficult to see.
Because she is talking to them, and they are so young, it's nearly impossible for them to understand why they cannot just hit rewind and take it all back. Make it stop. Freeze it. Make, her, real.
"Honestly some of the hardest things for me watching it is watching her go thru the emotions, I cannot imagine putting myself in the places she went thru to put those stories out there for the kids," Warren said, of his emotion, in watching Amy's stories.
Like the last message she ever recorded.
"I will do everything I can to be the best mommy I can be up in heaven even though I know it's never the same, as being here on Earth," Amy told them on a recording from her hospital room nearing the end of her life.
The last parenting she was ever able to do, in that message, was perfect.
She made a promise to love, not until death when they had to part but forever.
"There will be signs all around you that I am with you; you just have to open your eyes and ears to see them," she said.
And one look at that family of three, Warren, Isabella and Arbor tells anyone who really sees them that Amy kept that promise because her love, in them, is always there.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)