Santa ‘cried all the way home’ after boy died in his arms

‘You’re my Number 1 elf’
Eric Schmitt-Matzen

Not long after Eric Schmitt-Matzen had gotten home he received an urgent phone call from a nearby hospital.

Having worked for 6 years as a Santa Claus, Eric knew the hospital well and visited often as Santa to spread cheer.

This time however, the request was very specific.

There was a five-year-old boy in the hospital who looked like he wasn’t going to get better – and his one wish was to see Santa Claus.

Arriving 15 minutes later, decked out as Santa Claus, Eric walked into the boy’s hospital room.

‘He was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep,’ Eric told

‘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!’

Handing the little boy a present, he saw the boy’s face light up with a big smile before he laid down weakly again.

‘Santa, can you help me?’

Eric then had to answer a question he wasn’t expecting.

‘They say I’m gonna die,’ said the boy. ‘How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?’

‘When you get there, you tell them you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in,’ replied Eric.

Sitting up and wrapping his arms around his hero, the boy asked his last question.

‘Santa, can you help me?’

Before Eric had a chance to answer he realised the boy had quietly passed away.

‘He was in my arms when I felt him pass. I kinda looked up in the air, and tears started coming down my face,’ he recalls, tearing up at the memory.

When the boy’s family rushed back into the room, Eric made his exit. But the event left him deeply shaken and even considering hanging up his Santa suit for good.

‘I was a basket case for three days. It took me a week or two to stop thinking about it all the time.’

He eventually put his suit back on, saying he has an important role to play bringing kids happiness. Especially those who are dangerously ill around Christmas time.

‘The kids know they are going to miss Christmas which is a fun time for them. That has them more worried about missing Christmas than dying.’

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