A heart-breaking story of a terminally ill boy dying in Santa’s arms has had an emotional effect on the world this Christmas.
Eric Schmitt-Matzen, a normally jolly Santa Claus in Tennessee, USA, has shared his emotional experience of granting a sick five-year-old boy’s last wish.
All the boy wanted was to meet Santa Claus, but when Schmitt-Matzen rushed to the hospital he didn’t know how much time the boy had, and how much those moments would affect him.
Columnist Sam Venable for the Knoxville News-Sentinel met Schmitt-Matzen a month after the event to hear his story.
Schmitt-Matzen, aged 60, works as a mechanic by day, and had just gotten home from work when he was called to action.
A nurse had called him to say that a sick boy wanted to see Santa. There was no time for Schmitt-Matzen to put on his complete outfit so he went in his suspenders. Schmitt-Matzen has an award-winning beard and a full Santa figure, so he normally looks the part in his daily life.
Santa entered the little boy’s room in the Intensive Care Unit, and asked his emotional family to stay outside. He had a job to do, and he had to bring Christmas to their child.
The boy’s mother gave Santa a Paw Patrol toy to give to him, but the child was barely able to open the wrapping.
Santa told the boy that he was his Number One Elf, and therefore couldn’t possibly miss Christmas. However, the boy was aware of what was about to happen, and told Santa he was worried about where he will go next.
Schmitt-Matzen told the boy, “When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.
With this reassurance, the little boy sat up and hugged Santa, but died in his arms.
Seeing the boy’s distraught family when they realised what happened, and the sheer emotional impact of the day almost made Schmitt-Matzen want to give up his role as Santa.
He forced himself to take on one more show, and to see children laughing made him realise that his job wasn’t done just yet.
The emotional story really pulls at the heartstrings. No doubt Schmitt-Matzen has met many children, but it seems that none have impacted him so much as the little boy. You can see the video interview below: