Dying in Santa's arms
Terminally-ill boy, 5, dies in Santa Claus' arms after fulfilling one last wish to see him
Eric Schmitt-Matzen plays Santa Claus at 80 different gigs every year, but it was one boy in a Tennessee hospital who he will never forget. Schmitt-Matzen, a mechanical engineer and the president of Packaging Seals & Engineering, had just gotten home from work when he got an urgent phone call.
Posted by Jill Fallon at December 12, 2016 10:05 AM
It was a nurse who worked at the hospital where Schmitt-Matzen, 60, often spreads joy and Christmas cheer. The nurse said there was a 'very sick five-year-old boy' who wanted to see Santa Claus...He told the nurse he would change into his suit and come right away, but she said the boy didn't have much time left.'Your Santa suspenders are good enough,' she then said. 'Come right now.' ...
As the boy's relatives watched and cried from a window looking into the Intensive Care Unit, Schmitt-Matzen walked inside and saw the boy.
'He was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep. 'I sat down on his bed and asked, "Say, what's this I hear about you're gonna miss Christmas? There's no way you can miss Christmas. Why, you're my Number One elf!'
The little boy looked up at Schmitt-Matzen and his perfect Santa Claus beard and asked: 'I am?'
Schmitt-Matzen assured the child that he was, and then gave him the toy. "He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down.'
The little boy then had a big question for Santa. 'They say I'm gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I'm going?'
Schmitt-Matzen then asked the little boy to do him a 'big favor'. 'When you get there, you tell them you're Santa's Number One elf, and I know they'll let you in,' he told the boy.
'Sure!' Schmitt-Matzen confidently replied.
The little boy sat up and gave him a big hug. He had one more question: 'Santa, can you help me?'
It would be his final words.
'I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there,' Schmitt-Matzen said.
Schmitt-Matzen said everyone outside the room then realized what had just happened, and the little boy's mother ran into the room screaming.
'I handed her son back and left as fast as I could,' he said. 'I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I’ve seen my share of (stuff). But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off.'