Heartbreaking Christmas story: After final wish was fulfilled, terminally-ill boy dies in Santa’s arms

Here’s how their conversation transpired:

 “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!”

He looked up and said, “‘I am?’

I said, “Sure!’

I gave him the present. He was so weak he could barely open the wrapping paper. When he saw what was inside, he flashed a big smile and laid his head back down.

“They say I’m gonna die,” he told me. “How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?”

Eric Schmitt-Matzen is known for playing Santa Claus in Knoxville for many years| Image from Johnson City Press

I said, “Can you do me a big favor?”

He said, “‘Sure!’

“When you get there, you tell ’em you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.”

He said, “They will?”

I said, “Sure!”

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.

When everyone outside the room realized what happened, they immediately went in, with the mother screaming: ‘No, no, not yet!’

Schmitt-Matzen handed her son back and he left as fast as he could.

“I cried all the way home. I was crying so hard, I had a tough time seeing good enough to drive,” he said.