TODAY | January 12, 2014
>> reporter: like any parents who lost a child, tim and mary ellen smith of johnson city , tennessee, are struggling with grief. before their daughter taylor succumbed suddenly to pneumonia, the precocious 12-year-old did something remarkable.
>> she had written a letter to herself and she would open it when she was older.
>> reporter: they found it in a sealed envelope, intended to be opened ten years later. it was little girl 's two-page time capsule list to herself, a thoughtful list of hopes and goals that the smiths decided to share by social media . how's life she begins to her older self, life is pretty simple ten years in her past. she instructs herself to go to college, maybe become a lawyer, stay close to her family and her church and closes with words her parents could almost hear her saying.
>> it's been ten years since i wrote this stuff. stuff has happened, good and bad. that's just how life works and you have to go with it.
>> reporter: the response to taylor 's letter in e-mails and comments has been emotional and nearly overwhelming.
>> letters from lots of parents who said just it has encouraged them to love their kids and love each other.
>> reporter: grieving parents who are proud of their daughter, of course.
>> i want the world to know what an awesome, awesome person she was.
>> reporter: and generous enough to share the gift she left them.
>> i can't physically resurrect her, i can't bring her back, but i'm so grateful that people have been inspired by her story.
>> reporter: taylor left an older brother behind as well as her parents. along with ood meyerers worldwide, moved by the story of her short but meaningful life. for "today," mike taibbi , nbc news.