5-year-old boy with terminal illness gets his final wish, then passes away in Santa’s arms

I’ve always wondered just how much fun those who play Santa have each year during the festive season.

It can’t be an easy gig – the mere pressure of living up to the expectations of every child you see would buckle me – but there certainly must be a grand sense of satisfaction at the end of each day.

After all, a good Santa has the power to bring a smile to the faces of all little ones, no matter their mood, and just knowing they’re instilling a sense of magic in a world that so desperately needs it must be like a healing balm for the soul.

Yet few Santas have ever faced such a trying, tragic situation as Eric Schmitt-Matzen, mechanical engineer and co-owner of Packaging Seals & Engineering, who turns out as Father Christmas for events and gigs every year.

As per reports, Eric had just arrived home from work one day in 2016, when he received an urgent call from a hospital in Tennessee.

Eric revealed to the press that a nurse was on the other end of the line, and she had called him because there was a terminally ill five-year-old boy at the hospital whose final wish was to meet Santa.

Eric rushed to the hospital and met with the boy’s mother, who handed him a gift her son had specifically asked for that Christmas: a Paw Patrol figurine. Eric took the gift, asking the boy’s family to wait outside while he met the little boy – he didn’t want to cry in front of the child if his family grew emotional.

According to Eric’s account, he then entered the ICU, sat at the end of the boy’s bed, and asked: “What’s this I hear you’re going to be missing Christmas this year?”

After opening his gift, the boy replied: “They say I’m gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?”

Eric reportedly then asked the boy to do him a special favor.

“When you get up to them Pearly Gates, you just tell them you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in,” he said.

The little boy sat up in his bed and gave Eric a big hug. Eric later told the press that the five-year-old then passed away in his arms.

“He was in my arms when I felt him pass,” the man explained.

CHILD WITH CANCER DIES IN SANTA’S ARMS! 🎅🏼😔🖤🕊.A very sad experience lived a 60-year-old man, who works as Santa Claus…

Posted by 𝗢𝗵 𝗡𝗼 𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 on Saturday, December 9, 2023
“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.”

According to sources, Eric’s heartbreaking experience left him questioning whether or not he wanted to continue to be Santa. After forcing himself to attend an event the following day, however, he was reminded of just made convinced him to take on the mantle in the first place… the love, laughter and joy of the children he meets.

Mere days after Eric’s story garnered viral fame – in December, 2016 – his tale of events came into question. The Knoxville News Sentinel, the first to report the story, published an editor’s note at the head of its article revealing that it had been unable to “independently verify” Eric’s account.

Eric responded by declaring himself hurt by the doubts as to the credibility of his account.

“I feel like I have been used and then hung out to dry,” he said in a text message, as per TIME.

“I emphasized from the very beginning that I intended to keep my word and not disclose any information that could lead to the folks’ identity.”

He added: “Now I am being made out to be a liar. I tried to do a good deed, was talked into telling the story of what happened to me . . . and now the press is ridiculing me for standing my ground.”

This story was certainly enough to bring me to tears. If you were moved by Eric’s gesture, leave a comment in the box.

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