Christmas is usually associated with joy and happiness, the coming together of family and friends, tears of joy, coming home and the ever-ebullient X-mas spirit, but this Christmas story will break your heart. A terminally ill five-year-old boy’s ardent wish this year was to meet Santa Claus since he was afraid he would miss Christmas this year. As it happened, his wish was fulfilled as he died in the arms of Santa.
Eric Schmitt-Matzen, who looks every bit like Santa with his white curled moustache and beard and 136kg frame, had a heart-wrenching experience a couple of days back when he suddenly got a call from a nurse from a local hospital in Knoxville city, US. He was told that a very sick child wanted to see Santa. “He was more concerned about missing Christmas, than dying,” Schmitt-Matzen told NBC affiliate WBIR channel.
After he arrived at the hospital room within 15 minutes, Schmitt-Matzen asked the boy, “What’s this I hear you’re going to be missing Christmas this year?” That’s when the boy told him he heard he was going to die. “Well, you’re not going to miss Christmas, the elves
already had your present, we knew you wanted this for a long time,” he said he told the boy, handing him a gift that had already been given to him.
Schmitt-Matzen then told the kid, “When you get up those pearly gates, you just tell them you’re Santa’s No. 1 elf.” To which the child apparently responded, “I am?” perking up. “You sure are, I’m sure they’ll let you right in,” the 60-year-old said.
The boy then gave him a tight hug, and “he just looked at me and said, Santa, can you help me?” “And that’s when he passed,” Schmitt-Matzen told Knoxville News Sentinel in an interview, adding that after the boy died in his arms, he left the hospital as fast as he could.
“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,” he told the paper.
Schmitt-Matzen said he was ready to hang up his Santa suit for good in despair, but found the strength for one more children’s show. “When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realise the role I have to play,” said the part-time Santa, whose Facebook page has been flooded with likes. “For them and for me.”