Eric Schmitt-Matzen

Christmas should never be for mourning or saying goodbyes but some life journeys unfortunately end during the season.

Eric Schmitt-Matzen, a professionally trained Santa, shares his experience with a 5-year old boy who died in his arms.

According to him, this was the height of all the heartbreaking moments he had ever witnessed in his lifetime.

Eric Schmitt-Matzen, is a Knoxville, Tennessee man, who has the typical Santa Clause look. The elderly man grows and bleaches his beards to have the traditional white beards of Santa.

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He obtained a professional training to be able to play Santa Clause, every child’s best friend at Christmas.

On a certain day, he got a call from a nurse in a hospital requesting him to urgently come over to the hospital. She told him there was a little boy who was critically ill and wanted to see Santa.

On getting there he saw the 5-year old boy’s mum. She gave Santa a gift for the dying boy. Already sensing the emotional atmosphere, Eric requested family members to stay out of the room if they could not handle it.

“She’d bought a toy from (the TV show) PAW Patrol and wanted me to give it to him. 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.'”

The family co-operated with him and chose to look through the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) window.

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“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.

Eric Schmitt-Matzen was heartbroken beyond his imagination. He cried home that day and was de-stabilized for weeks. Somehow he managed to brave the effect of the experience on him.

“When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play.”