Kid Dies In Santa's Arms

Knoxville engineer Eric Schmitt-Matzen keeps his beard groomed all year in order to play a more authentic Santa Claus.

Last month Eric got a call from a nurse at a nearby hospital who said a terminally ill five-year-old boy wanted to see Santa before he died.  Eric got over there in fifteen minutes.

Just before entering the room the boy's mom pushed a toy into his hand.  "If you think you're going to lose it, please leave the room. If I see you crying, I'll break down and can't do my job,'"  Eric consoled.

'...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!' 

The little boy barely able to speak said,  'I am?' 

Then Eric handed him the toy and watched as the little guy struggled to take off the wrapping paper.  

The boy looked up,  'They say I'm gonna die, how can I tell when I get to where I'm going?' 

Eric couldn't answer and quietly asked the boy to do him a 'big favor'.   'When you get there, you tell them you're Santa's Number One elf, and I know they'll let you in...'  'They will?' the child wondered.   'Sure!'  Eric assured.

With his last bit of strength the boy pushed his failing body up and gave Santa a hug.  And in a low voice whispered, 'Santa, can you help me?' 

'I wrapped my arms around him. Before I could say anything, he died right there...he was in my arms when I felt him pass.'