Now, what could be more heart wrenching a story than a terminally ill boy dying in the arms of Santa Claus less than two weeks before Christmas?
It was the boy’s wish to meet Santa and the wish did come true; however, the boy dying in the arms of Santa will bring tears to the eyes of even the most hardhearted. Spare a thought for the family and their ordeal in this festive season.
A nurse who works at Knoxville, Tennessee, hospital made an urgent and desperate call to the sixty-year-old Eric Schmitt-Matzen, a professional and trained Santa Claus and personally known to her, to come immediately to the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital and meet the dying boy who had very little time left.
Eric, who is not only a pro-Father Christmas but also a mechanical engineer and the president of Packing Seals and Engineering, spoke to the Knoxville News Sentinel:
“I’d just gotten home from work that day. “The telephone rang. It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital. She said there was a very sick five-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.”
The nurse did not even allow him to put on his Santa costume as there was no time for that; so he made a hurried exit in his Father Christmas braces and was at the Intensive Care within fifteen minutes of the emotional plea from the nurse where he was met by the dying boy’s mother.
“She’d bought a toy from (the TV show) PAW Patrol and wanted me to give it to him,” Eric explained.
“I sized up the situation and told everyone, ‘If you think you’re going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I’ll break down and can’t do my job.’” Eric said and entered the room unaccompanied.
According to Eric, the boy looked so weak lying there on the hospital bed as if he would fall off to sleep any moment.
“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!” Eric said to the boy. The boy looked up at Eric and said, “I am?” to which Eric said “Sure.”
Now here is what will bring tears to many eyes – after Eric had helped him unpack the present the boy said:
“They say I’m gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’’
‘I said, ‘Can you do me a big favor? When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.
“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.”
The emotional encounter between the boy and Santa was being witnessed by the family through a window.
“No, no, not yet!” the boy’s mother screamed as she ran in as soon as the youngster breathed his last in Santa’s arms – his last wish coming true.
“I cried all the way home. I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive,” Eric said. He doubts if he will ever be able to play Santa again after this emotional encounter – which would take a lifetime for anyone to forget.
The name and illness of the boy have not been identified.