Several weeks ago, Eric Schmitt-Matzen, a mechanical engineer and part-time santa received a call from a local Nashville nurse. Schmitt-Matzen was used to getting requests and would always oblige, but this one was different…
The nurse asked him to come to a local hospital because there was a terminally ill 5-year-old boy who’s one Christmas wish was to see Santa. Schmitt-Matzen quickly changed into his costume and hurried to the hospital where he was greeted by the little boy’s mother, who gave him a Paw Patrol toy to hand to her son.
“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!” Schmitt-Matzen told the boy. He told a local paper the boy was so weak he could barely open the gift.
He asked Santa, “They say I’m going to die. How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?” Holding the boy in his arms, he told him, “When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.”
The boy sat up, and asked him one more question: “Santa, can you help me?”
But before Schmitt-Matzen could answer, the boy died in his arms.
“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. I know nurses and doctors see things like that every day, but I don’t know how they can take it,” he told USA Today.
“I cried all the way home,” Schmitt-Matzen said. “I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive. My wife and I were scheduled to visit our grandchildren in Nashville the next day, but I told her to go by herself. I was a basket case for three days. It took me a week or two to stop thinking about it all the time.”
Eric Schmitt-Matzen has played Santa Clause for over a decade. His beard is real, he was even born on December 6th (Saint Nicholas Day). He has brought joy to thousands of children, but for one, their final wish.