When a 12-year-old girl sat down to pen a letter to her 22-year-old self, she couldn't have realized her words would become a source of comfort and inspiration to her family and millions of strangers just months later.
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - When 12-year-old Taylor Smith sat down to pen a letter to her future self, she planned to keep her words sealed for a decade - saved for her eyes only. She couldn't have known her message would serve as a gift of tremendous comfort and inspiration to her family - along with millions of others - less than a year later. Taylor passed away suddenly on Jan. 5 after contracting pneumonia, leaving behind grief-stricken parents and an older brother. Shortly after her death, Tim and Mary Ellen Smith happened upon an unexpected gift as they were sorting through their daughter's room. It came in the form of a simple envelope marked "confidential." "To be opened by Taylor Smith on April 13, 2023 only! (Unless said otherwise)," it read. Inside, Taylor's parents found a piece of Taylor herself. The 12-year-old's advice, questions and reminders for her 22-year-old self are funny, heartwarming, and overall inspiring. She writes of her education, encouraging herself to keep moving forward and work hard to reach her academic potential. "Congratulations on graduating high school! If you didn't, go back and keep trying. Get that degree!" Taylor wrote. "Are you (we) in college?... If we're in college, what are we majoring in? Right now I want to be a lawyer." She goes on to ask 22-year-old Taylor about her life adventures. "Have you gone on any more mission trips? Have you been out of the country yet? How about on a plane?" she wrote. Taylor made sure to throw in a few pop culture references for posterity – specifically mentioning Dr. Who and Dollywood. She even went so far as to draw a diagram of the first-generation iPad for her future kids. "Don't forget to tell your kids that we're older than the tablet!" she wrote. The tone of the letter turns a bit more serious as Taylor brings up the subject of God. "Have you prayed, worshipped, read the Bible or gone to serve the Lord lately?" she wrote. "If not, get up and do so NOW!" Tim Smith was so touched by his daughter's words that he decided to share the letter on Facebook. "I just want people to know just what an awesome, awesome person she was," Smith told NBC. Those who've heard Taylor's story seem to agree. The response, Smith said, has been overwhelming. "The hope that Taylor shared in this letter is what she would've wanted to share with the world," Tim Smith wrote on Facebook. "So as her father, I feel it's the least I can do to honor her." Taylor's story has inspired and uplifted both loved ones and strangers alike. "We've got letters from lots of parents who've said it's encouraged them to love their kids and love each other," Mary Ellen Smith told NBC. "I can't physically resurrect her, I can't bring her back, but I'm so grateful people have been inspired by her story." In the wise words of Taylor Smith: "Stuff has happened, good and bad, that's just how life works and you have to go with it." Tim Smith Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152105434543286&type=1&l=2b5e6ddbb2%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif%3Fcid%3D138578%26pid%3D46%22%20/%3E