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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The parents of a 12-year-old girl who died over the weekend say an advice letter she wrote to her future self is offering them comfort.

"Initially, it's shock and waves of depression and hoping that it's not real and hoping that every time you take a nap or go to sleep, you find out it wasn't real," said Tim Smith.

On Jan. 5, Tim and his wife, Ellen, faced a reality no parent can ever prepare for.

"If it's God's time, it's God's time, and he loved her more than we could ever love her. So much that he just said, 'Come on,'" he said. "A lot of people are probably wondering why it's so easy for a father who's 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 I know that my baby girl trusted him."

Smith says his daughter, Taylor, always had big plans for her future. She died Sunday after a battle with pneumonia. He says family and friends have filled he and Ellen's hearts with joy telling stories about Taylor.

"She showed me how God loves. She didn't see anything on the exterior; she only saw the inside. She only looked at what was best about you," said Smith. "I'm more determined now to find what God's will is. Right now you're even seeing a glimpse of what God's will was: all the people that are being touched by what's going on, you know if even that changes the course of someone's life, I know Taylor would say it was worth it."

Taylor's mom and dad have been going through boxes from her room, filled with poems, journals, and letters of encouragement she'd written to people but hadn't given them yet. One of those letters is to someone who will never get to open it.

"To be opened by Taylor Smith on April 13, 2023, only, unless said otherwise," the letter said.

Twelve-year-old Taylor wrote the letter to her future self just months ago.

"Dear Taylor, how's life? Life is pretty simple 10 years in your past. Congratulations on graduating high school. If you didn't, go back and keep trying. Get that degree. If we're in college, what are we majoring in? Right now, I want to be a lawyer," the letter says.

The letter goes on with words of wisdom and advice beyond her twelve years.

"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," it says.

It's advice she intended to look back on; advice her parents say now keeps them looking forward.

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