"I cried all the way home."
With the last of his energy, the boy hugged his personal Santa Claus. That’s when Eric felt him grow weaker. “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,” Schmitt-Matzen told the local news.
Within moments, the boy’s mother came in screaming, “No, no, not yet.” The entire staff present began crying. Schmitt-Matzen couldn’t bear all the sorrow.
“I spent four years in the Army with the 75th Rangers and I’ve seen my share […] 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.”
After the devastating and life-altering event, Schmitt-Matzen said he almost lost his will to perform as Santa anymore. Though he had done it for years, instilling joy in others and finding plenty of happiness for himself along the way, the boy’s death was almost too much to bear. He even passed on traveling to see his own grandchildren the next day.
“I cried all the way home. I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive,” he said.
But a few weeks later, Eric decided to take one more gig. “When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play.
“For them and for me.”
Eric is truly somebody doing his best to spread the holiday cheer. SHARE this story with somebody this holiday season.