Eric Schmitt-Matzen had just arrived home from his day job as mechanical engineer when he received a call from a nearby hospital in Nashville that a boy in ICU wants to see Santa Claus, possibly for the last time. Since he works gigs as Santa Claus – and is not just a professionally Santa Claus but was also born on Saint Nicholas Day! – he immediately rushed to the hospital in his costume.
Upon arriving, he was directed to a 5-year-old boy who was so sick that he could barely lift his hands to open Santa’s gift.
The boy’s condition brought tears to Eric’s eyes but knowing that he wouldn’t be able to stop crying once he starts shedding a tear, he took a deep breath and put on the brightest smile he could muster. Then, he told the family, “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.”
He then told the boy that he was his ‘number one elf’.
The boy asked, “They say I’m gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?”
“Can you do me a big favor?” Santa Eric asked.
The boy weakly said, “Sure!”
Eric told the young lad, “When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s number-one elf, and I know they’ll let you in.”
“They will?” the boy asked.
Santa replied, “Sure!”
Satisfied with Santa’s answers, the boy smiled.
Eric would later recall, “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.”
“I cried all the way home. I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive,” he added.
Well, anyone in that situation would also break down – but we are still thankful that the boy was able to get his last wish and died in peace…