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5-year-old dies in Santa’s arms

Eric Schmitt-Matzen


Terminally ill 5-year-old dies in Santa’s arms

Eric Schmitt-Matzen [has] portrayed Santa for years.  A few weeks ago, his cellphone [rang], so he picked it up. It was a request for him to hear the wishes of a 5-year-old. Only, this 5-year-old was in the ICU and didn’t have much time left — Schmitt-Matzen didn’t even have time to put on his full suit, only his Santa-laden suspenders.

“I’d just gotten home from work that day,” Schmitt-Matzen told the Knoxville New Sentinel. “It was a nurse I know who works at the hospital. She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus.”

“You know, kids look at things completely different,” Schmitt-Matzen recalled to WBIR in a video. “He was more concerned with missing Christmas than he was of dying.”

He said, ‘They say I’m dying.’”  Schmitt-Matzen asked the boy to do him a favor.  “When you get to those pearly gates, you just tell them you’re Santa’s number one elf. I guarantee you, it’ll open the gates for you.”

The boy smiled and said, “I am?”  Then, Schmitt-Matzen told the Knoxville News Sentinel, “He kinda sat up and gave me a big hug and asked one more question: ‘Santa, can you help me?’”

Schmitt-Matzen wrapped him in a warm, tight embrace.

“Before I could say anything, he died right there,” he said. “I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.”
[Washington Post]

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