Residents of Johnson City, Tenn., are mourning the loss of a 12-year-old middle school student who died unexpectedly over the weekend from complications with pneumonia.
But the young girl left something behind that is offering major comfort to her family.
While Taylor Scout Smith's mother, father and brother are grieving her passing, a letter they found while going through some boxes in her bedroom is helping them look toward the future as they cope with unimaginable tragedy.
The note, written by Taylor just a few months ago, wasn't intended to be open for at least 10 years, WJHL-TV reported.
An image of the letter that Taylor Smith wrote before her death (Credit: WJHL-TV)
"To be opened by Taylor Smith on April 13, 2023 only unless said otherwise," read the letter, which Taylor wrote to herself and planned to open when she turned 22.
It continues, "Dear Taylor, how's life? Life is pretty simple 10 years in your past, I know I'm late for you, but I'm writing this early, so congratulations on graduating high school, if you didn't, go back and keep trying, get that degree … Do you have your own place yet? If we're in college what are we majoring in? Right now I want to be a lawyer."
Taylor, a strong Christian, also asked how her relationship with God is, and at the end of the letter, she wisely told her older self that much time had passed since the note was written and that both positive and negative events had likely unfolded.
"That's just how life works and you have to go with it," she concluded.
Sadly, Taylor won't be around to read these words, but that doesn't mean they aren't having an impact.
Kathy Glasgow Oakes, Taylor's maternal aunt, told The Johnson City Press that the letter is a testament to her niece's uncommon wisdom.
"Her dad [Tim Smith] said what made her so special was she had the wisdom of an adult but the faith of a child," she said.
Smith told WJHL-TV that, despite the pain he's feeling, he's comforted and trusting God, because he knew how much his daughter's relationship with the Almighty mattered to her.
"If it's God's time, it's God's time, and he loved her more than we could ever love her. So much so that he said 'come on,'" he said of her passing. "A lot of people are probably wondering why it's so easy for a father whose just lost his daughter to say something like that, to not curse God, to not hate God, the only thing I can say is that right now it's easy for me to trust God because my baby girl trusted him."
The father went on to say that the family is seeing evidence in the wake of Taylor's death of the many ways she positively impacted those around her. Smith called her "a perfect example of what it is to love God and to love people" and said that his young daughter truly showed him God's love.
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