In April 2013 a young girl from Tennessee wrote a letter to her future self. And while tragically the note’s intended recipient will never get to read it, the contents’ moving mix of childlike sparkle and startling wisdom have nevertheless brought hope and peace to a much wider audience. In fact, what was initially intended as something to be read by one person only has since become an inspirational message to the wider world.
Taylor Scout Smith from Johnson City, Tennessee passed away in January 2014, aged just 12 years old. Devastatingly, what her parents thought was just regular flu in fact turned out to be pneumonia.
Following Taylor’s death, her parents Tim and Ellen undertook the heartbreaking task of cleaning her room. While doing so, though, they came across a number of items that spoke volumes about their daughter’s personality.
In fact, the “quirky” and “very spiritual” tween left behind several unusual belongings – items which, as her aunt Kathy Glasgow Oakes told the Johnson City Press, were “not normal things for a 12-year-old.”
Among the possessions were lists of Taylor’s passwords and comments about her mother’s culinary skills, but there was one item in particular that caught her parents’ attention.
This was a letter that Taylor had addressed to her future self, sealed in an envelope noting that it was not to be opened until April 2023.
The envelope was also marked as confidential, although given the circumstances, Tim and Ellen felt that it was appropriate to read whatever was inside. And upon doing so, they were amazed by their daughter’s levelheaded words of wisdom.
The missive began with words of encouragement and advice for her 22-year-old self. Taylor wrote, “I know I’m late for you, but as I’m writing, this is early, so; congratulations on graduating high school! If you didn’t, go back and keep trying. Get that degree! Are you (we) in college? If not, I understand. We do have pretty good reasoning, after all.”
Taylor then implored herself to work on her “relationship with God” before asking a series of questions about her future self’s level of involvement in mission trips. She explained that, at the time of writing, she had recently returned from her first such trip.
According to her aunt, mission trips and other Christian-focused activities were among Taylor’s major passions. The young girl’s sense of adventure was also evident from her eagerness to know whether her adult self had “been out of the country yet” or flown on a plane.
As the letter continued, though, the young writer revealed a more playful side. She asked her future self whether Doctor Who was still being broadcast and whether or not she had recently visited Dollywood – the theme park owned by country music star Dolly Parton.
She then encouraged herself to “go watch some Doctor Who,” albeit only after she had finished reading her own “words of wisdom.”
Taylor then reverted back to more pertinent questions about her own life trajectory, inquiring as to what her college major was and adding that, at the time of writing, her heart was set on becoming a lawyer.
In a mischievous twist, the younger Taylor also encouraged her elder incarnation to inform her children that she was “older than the tablet,” and she included a hand-drawn diagram of an iPad as a visual aid.
This childlike exuberance, however, was then offset by a philosophical closing statement displaying wisdom far beyond Taylor’s years. Signing off, she explained, “It’s been ten years since I wrote this. Stuff has happened, good and bad. That’s just how life works, and you have to go with it.”
Reflecting on Taylor’s words, her relatives believe that they perfectly encapsulated the many facets of her personality, exemplifying her remarkable maturity and intelligence as well as her deep faith. Speaking to the Johnson City Press, Taylor’s aunt also described her late niece as an “old soul” – something reflected, perhaps, in the more perceptive parts of her letter.
Furthermore, Taylor’s dad has described his daughter as differing from other girls of her age, since she “had her priorities in order.” This is evident from the sensible questions that she asked her fully-grown self in the letter.
Finding comfort in the letter, Taylor’s parents decided to then share it on Facebook in order to spread their daughter’s message and virtues to a wider audience, with the wish that it would prove an inspiration to others.
Tim explained to NBC that he hoped the letter would also show the world what “an awesome, awesome person” Taylor was. Ellen, meanwhile, added that she is touched to have received very positive feedback from those who have read the note, particularly “parents who’ve said it’s encouraged them to love their kids and love each other.”
And during his own difficult time following Taylor’s death, Tim has revealed that one other thing in particular provided great solace. Moreover, it’s something that he once shared with his daughter – his faith in God. Speaking to local news station WJHL-TV, Tim explained, “A lot of people are probably wondering why it’s so easy for a father who’s just lost his daughter 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.”