Having to bury a child is an unimaginable tragedy, and in the face grief it is hard to know what an unexpectedly discovered letter may bring. So often, when we see the handwriting of someone who has died, we feel that person’s presence. There is little, after all, that is more unique than handwriting. Holding a letter that has felt the touch of someone’s hand may be as close as we can get to a caress.
Found letters at their best hold memories, love, and sometimes new information. They let us into the life of someone who has left this world. The parents of Taylor Scout Smith, who died recently from complications of pneumonia, have suffered the unbearable tragedy of having to bury a child. While cleaning up her room, they discovered a letter she had written to herself in April of 2013, a letter in a sealed enveloped that she was to open herself in ten years.
This letter is a beautiful love letter to the person she planned on becoming. It is chatty, and filled with affection, appreciation and self-respect. It expresses the joy of her faith and her hope for the future. This is a letter that gave her parents new and joyous information about their daughter’s impact on the world. This letter, along with the newly discovered boxes of her letters, poems and journals, will be a forever personal declaration of who their daughter was in life. It may also be how later generations of her family will get to know the beautiful girl they never met.
What Taylor Scout Smith left behind is the chance for us to meet a remarkable, loving and emotionally generous young girl and her equally remarkable parents. It is a chance for all of us to see, once again, the power of found letters. From me to you with love in the air, Janet
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