This professional Santa did something so incredibly beautiful for a dying child, and we’re beyond moved

Quick warning: If you’re the kind of person who cries easily, you may want to read this in private.

This is a story about a terminally ill 5-year-old dying in Santa’s arms, and nothing gets sadder than someone losing their life too soon, or more beautiful than a stranger’s loving gesture to someone in need.

Mechanical engineer Eric Schmitt-Matzen of Tennessee works as a professional Santa during the holiday season, and he received a call from a hospital where a dying boy had asked to see Santa Claus. This is a situation that many strangers may shy away from. But not Schmitt-Matzen. Instead, the professional Santa put on his Santa suit and rushed to the hospital.

"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 his local news station, WBIR.

Schmitt-Matzen helped the boy unwrap a present, and then asked him a favor. “When you get up to those pearly gates, you tell them that you’re Santa’s Number One elf.” The boy smiled, and passed away soon after while being held in Santa’s arms.

Nothing will ever make losing a child so young okay, but the fact that this local man stepped up for duty to bring a little joy and comfort to someone so desperately in need reminds us that there is good in this world. As far as we’re concerned, he’s a hero.

Schmitt-Matzen said he “cried all the way home,” and couldn’t stop thinking about the little boy for weeks. But it also reminded him how important the role of Santa is for so many children.

We’re sending so much love to the family of this boy, and to the Santa who joined him for these last special moments.

H/T Uproxx