5:08:00 AM

After a long and exhausting day working as the president of Packing Seals & Engineering in Jacksboro, Tennessee, Eric Schmitt-Matzen was headed home to relax as he received a frantic call from a nurse at a local hospital.

At 60 years old, Eric not only works as the president of a local company, he also embodies the Christmas spirit by dressing up as Santa Claus every year to spread the holiday spirit. On this long day, the professionally trained Santa Claus was called by the nurse to help fulfill the dying wish of a young boy.

Without a doubt in his mind, Eric flipped his car around and sped to the hospital so he could meet this young boy and bring him some holiday cheer. With only moments to live, the boy was short for time and the nurse urged Eric to forget about driving to his house to get the Santa Claus outfit and just make do with what he had.

Dressed in the Santa suspenders he wore to work, Eric prepared to make this boy’s final wish come true as he walked through the large, swinging hospital doors. Eric was greeted by the boy’s family, who held back tears as they explained the situation. Agreeing that having teary eyes in the room as Santa Claus tried to be jolly would potentially ruin the moment for the young boy, so Eric went into the room alone as the family watched from outside.

“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!'” Eric explained.

Comforting the boy in his final moments, Eric offered him a fully wrapped box as an early Christmas present.

“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,” Eric said.

The boy sat up and hugged Eric, asking “Santa, can you help me?” Before Eric could even get out a reply, the boy had died right there in his embrace.

“No, no, no yet,” the boy’s mother cried as she burst through the room door and grabbed her son. The rest of the family came in and surrounded the boy as they cried in unison. Eric quietly left the room before erupting into tears as well.

Having spent his whole life dressing up as Santa Claus to bring children joy, the experience was hard on Eric, and the days that followed the experience left him feeling extremely sad. As Eric thought about the moment, though, he realized what he actually did was grant that boy his final wish. This boy just wanted to meet Santa Claus before he died, and Eric was able to provide that for him in the nick of time, which is truly a Christmas miracle.

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