The family of a 12-year-old Liberty Bell Middle School student will do today what no family can prepare for — memorialize their child’s life that ended too soon.
Taylor Scout Smith died Sunday from complications from pneumonia, but Kathy Glasgow Oakes, the sister of Taylor’s mother, Ellen Smith, said her niece’s spirit will live on. The youngster had become ill last week, was treated for the flu and then developed pneumonia.
Smith’s aunt said Tuesday the nearly 13-year-old was more of an “old soul” than a pre-teen, but at the same time exhibited the faith of a child.
“She was quirky. She loved God with all of her heart; she was just a very spiritual person,” Oakes said in a phone interview with Taylor’s parents, Tim and Ellen Smith, at her side.
Taylor, strong in her Christian faith, was not afraid to share her love of Christ, Oakes said.
“She was very involved in First Priority at Liberty Bell. It’s a faith-based organization after school which helps students with their faith, living out loud,” Oakes said. Her niece also had a Pinterest page listing all the places she wanted to visit on mission trips.
“She had a deep, deep desire to go around the world with missions. Her heart was to go on mission trips,” Oakes said.
Last year, Taylor had the opportunity to go on her first in-country mission trip to Virginia to help underprivileged children over her school’s spring break. Taylor paid for her trip with Christmas money from her great-grandmother.
“She had just signed up to participate this summer in People to People to be a student ambassador to break down cultural barriers,” at Science Hill, Oakes said.
Taylor was also one to organize and plan, which was reinforced to her family when they looked through her room after her death.
“She had a special box with all her special things, but they’re not normal things for a 12-year-old,” Oakes said. “One page was all her passwords. On another she was rating her mother’s dinner and then another was a to-do list of things she needs the next time she goes shopping; she’s telling herself things in her journals.
“She would say, ‘Taylor, read, read, read Philippians. It tells you how to act,’ ” Oakes said with a laugh.
Taylor also had a letter written to an older cousin who has a mission trip later this month, Oakes said. The letter was to be opened by the cousin while on the trip.
“She had it ready to go …. just encouraging her in the faith.”
And there was also a letter from Taylor to her future self marked “Confidential” that only Taylor was supposed to open in the year 2023. But she also included a caveat that said, “unless said otherwise,” which her family felt gave permission to read the letter.
In the letter, Taylor asked her future self if she was in college, and if she wasn’t, it was OK because “we do have pretty good reasoning, after all.”
She also wanted to know if she had been able to travel the world yet, if she’d been on a plane, if she’d been on any mission trips and asked how her relationship with God was.
“Then she switches quickly and says, “Is Dr. Who still on the air? If no, what regeneration do they end it with?” Oakes said, reading from Taylor’s letter.
In closing the letter, Taylor wrote “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.”
Oakes said Taylor’s words show just how wise her niece was. “Her dad said what made her so special was she had the wisdom of an adult but the faith of a child.”
Oakes said Taylor’s parents also want everyone to remember how much Taylor loved her brother, Judah.
“She loved her brother. He’s 19 months older and also at Liberty Bell. She adored Judah,” Oakes said, relaying a comment from Tim Smith.
He also said that the only difference between his daughter and other 12-year-olds was “she had her priorities in order.”
There have already been several ways set up to honor Taylor’s life. Teachers and students at Liberty Bell are asked to wear blue today, and a family friend had a star registered and named after Taylor.
On a wider scale, there is a memorial service to celebrate Taylor’s life tonight at Hosanna Fellowship, 715 Sunset Drive. The family will receive friends at 6 p.m. and the service will begin at 7. The church has established a memorial fund in Taylor’s name as well. Donations will be accepted at the church.