Truly Heart-Wrenching Story Of Terminally Ill 5-Year-Old Boy Dying In Santa’s Arms Asking For Last Christmas Wish
This story is legitimately one of the saddest things I’ve ever read in my life. Yet as depressing as this heartbreaking story is, it will hopefully awaken the humanity in everyone’s soul.
Eric Schmitt-Matzen has been a professional Santa Claus for nine years so he has dealt with a myriad of weird and nearly impossible requests for Christmas gifts, but this holiday wish brought him to tears for days.
He received an urgent call from a nurse at a local hospital in Tennessee.
“She goes, ‘There’s a little guy that’s about ready to pass. And he’s more concerned about missing Christmas than he is about dying,'” Schmitt-Matzen said.
So the 6-foot, 310-pound Ole St. Nick rushed to the hospital to visit the terminally ill 5-year-old boy.
“I met the parents and relatives down the hall. I said, ‘If anybody feels like they’re going to lose it, please wait in the hall because I’ve got to be happy and jovial. If anybody starts to cry, please do run out the hallway because I can’t do my job,'” Schmitt-Matzen said.
Adhering to his warning, no one followed him into the room.
Sam Venable from the Knoxville News Sentinel spoke to Schmitt-Matzen who revealed the tragic last moments of the boy’s life.
I’m now going to relay what happened next, just as Schmitt-Matzen spoke to me. Space does not allow inclusion of the numerous pauses he took while struggling to maintain composure:
“When I walked in, 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!
“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’
“I gave him the present. 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.
‘“They say I’m gonna die,’ he told me. ‘How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’
“I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor?’
“He said, ‘Sure!’
“When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.
“He said, ‘They will?’
“I said, ‘Sure!’
“He kinda sat up and gave me a big hug and asked one more question: ‘Santa, can you help me?’
“I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.
“Everyone outside the room realized what happened. His mother ran in. She was screaming, ‘No, no, not yet!’ I handed her son back and left as fast as I could.
Right now every guy has a lump in their throat and is pretending to scratch their face when they’re actually wiping the flow of tears streaming down their eyes.
“I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers, and I’ve seen my share of (stuff),” Schmitt-Matzen said. “But I ran by the nurses’ station bawling my head off. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don’t know how they can take it.’”
He continued to understandably weep as he drove home, “I had to stop a few times because I couldn’t see where I was going.”
“I was a basket case for three days. It took me a week or two to stop thinking about it all the time,” he told the News-Sentinel. “Actually, I thought I might crack up and never be able to play the part again.”
“I’m just not cut out for this,” he believed.
Schmitt-Matzen gathered the strength to put on the Santa suit and see kids.
“When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play. For them and for me.”
“I don’t look forward to doing it again but if I got the call I’d do it in a heartbeat,” he said.