(HLNtv.com) -- "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."
Tim and Ellen Smith of Johnson City, Tennessee, were cleaning out their daughter Taylor's things when they found a letter. It was written by Taylor to herself at 22 years old, 10 years into the future.
Tragically, Taylor will never be able to read it. The 12-year-old died Sunday of complications from pneumonia. In the days that have passed, her grief-stricken family has found comfort in hearing others' stories and memories about their daughter.
"You see all the other things that she's done that you didn't know about: things at youth group, things at school, things where she just touched people's lives in ways that are unbelievable," Taylor's father, Tim Smith, told affiliate WJHL. "I'm more determined now to find what God's will is, and right now you're even seeing a glimpse of what God's will is: all the people that are being touched by what's going on."
The family has also begun going through Taylor's room. They've found boxes full of poems, journals and other musings, to-do lists left undone, letters left unsent.
One letter was addressed to herself.
"To be opened by Taylor Smith on April 13, 2023, only unless said otherwise," read the envelope.
The letter was filled with encouragement and questions any 12-year-old would ask. She wanted to know what she was studying. If she wasn't studying anything, that seemed to be OK, too. She wanted to know if "Dr. Who" was still on the air.
Her parents say Taylor was a deeply spiritual girl, and the letter reinforces what a special young life she led.
"She's just a perfect example of what it is to love God and to love people," her father said. "She showed me how God loves. She didn't see anything on the exterior; she only saw the inside and what was best about you."
Smith says his daughter's words give the family peace.
"Well, I think that's about all. But remember it's been 10 years since I wrote this. Stuff has happened good and bad, that's just how life works and you have to go with it."