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Tara’s Wish Story – as told by Mom

Tara Elizabeth Houston
February 16, 1995 - February 9, 2003

Walking into Children’s Hospital with Tara and hoping to walk out with a diagnosis of a severe inner ear infection or summer's heat stroke or something of the norm, was what we were expecting August 14, 2002, when instead our world as we knew it was totally blown away. Nothing was going to be 'norm' again!

It truly is heart breaking (total understatement) to go through what we have with our Tara and her diagnosis. It’s one thing to listen to the medical staff at the Children’s Hospital telling us such a horrific fate for our beautiful seven year old daughter, and as parents in an absolute daze, trying to digest this devastating information… it really was beyond imaginable.

Our girl was diagnosed with a brain stem glioma (a brain tumour) that was expected to take her life…. Sadly, but not without fight, it won. We lost our girl, February 9, 2003 to this ugly monster inside her, one week short of her eighth birthday.

Bringing Tara home from her weekend stay at the hospital and trying to put some normality into her life, and that of our family while we tried to figure out how to survive, we were greeted immediately with a phone message from Gail of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Southwestern Ontario chapter as soon as we walked in the door. Now that in itself hit it all home. When the MAW calls to grant your child a wish of all wishes you know this must be serious and not just a bad dream you pray to wake up from.

Thoughts instantly went to “how do we as parents cram a whole life time for Tara, into the short time period we were granted with diagnosis?” To think that with this call I could get for Tara her wish of all wishes was more amazing than I can ever put to words. Once I gathered the strength to return their call, I knew what the wish would be, but wasn’t sure if we were reaching for stars.

Tara’s wish of all wishes was to have her own horse! After a warm, compassionate call and conversation, the MAW was going to get back to us regarding such a dream. That maybe took all of a day, and voila, Tara was going to get a horse!

A horse is a huge undertaking as far as wishes go and family commitments, but we had the first problem solved, we already lived in the country and had room to have a horse. Next steps were a corral and a lean-too and feed and tack and stuff and things. The list seemed to grow and worry set in that maybe we were reaching for stars and could not bring this to a reality for our girl.

Ha, put that thought aside for you don’t know our friends! Under the direction of two of the best, Heather and Paula…it grew into an amazing reality. These friends worked with the MAW, the lumber yards, a group of our amazing friends and started to put this wish into motion. With Gail at the MAW finding us a trustworthy steed and our friends at the helm of building the new homestead…plans came together like you wouldn’t believe!

On that warm September long weekend (2002), in came the crew! Twenty to thirty or so friends and neighbours, too many to mention (and fear I would miss one if I listed them) lumber, tools, gates, water troughs, barbeques, you name it, showed up in our yard early that Saturday morning.

As it happens, I had Tara out ice skating with friends that morning and we were trying too keep the wish a secret til the corral was done. That’s alota building we had to keep quiet…and her brother Josh didn’t even let it slip!

So upon return home from the rink I did my very best to keep her at the front of the yard with comments of “Oh, Dad & Josh were just building a fence, no biggy.” That seemed to work for an hour or so as we busied ourselves in the gardens and such, but one eye off of Tara and she was gone! Full speed, around the house wanting to see what was going on… never wanting to be left out and well, just plain nosey!

So with me in chase of my little monkey, my gawd, you should have seen those big beautiful brown eyes pop out of her head when she rounded the back corner of the house. A corral is a corral and there was no hiding it now… for a little girl with only one wish, she knew exactly what it was!

Corral - Before

The incredible group that we are proud to call our friends had just finished their delegated jobs as Tara came on the scene. Building this wish come true for Tara goes beyond words or thanks. Our “crew” started at 8:00 a.m. and were completely done by 2:00 that same afternoon!

A hard labour of love!

Neighbours then were on duty with a barbeque lunch for all.

Tara took it all in, all our friends, the corral, the new lean-to, she looked around and said nothing, well only for a moment. She then was quick to pipe out, loud and clear, for all to hear…. “Can I get two Mom, Can I get two????”

Corral - after BBQ Lunch

Well everyone fell to their seats smiling and laughing and taking in all Tara’s excitement. It truly is a moment never to be forgotten and all felt and treasured to this day.

Seeing Tara’s genuine thrill and amazement turned the smiling faces to tears. A memory our friends will carry with them always. A memory for us as parents that we could never ever conceivably express, the love and gratitude we hold for our friends involved in this wish granting, leaves us speechless!

So that was step one of the wish granting, step two was to now fill our new corral with Tara’s own horse.

Introducing Buddy “Boom”  

A very handsome, 17 year old quarter horse, a truly beautiful fellow, arrived home here for Tara to claim as her very own! She couldn't believe her own eyes!

I am sure that was the longest day of Tara’s life that wait, but this small dark bay with mischief in his eyes pulled in here at about 4 o’clock a few days later and made himself right at home.

As many of us know or have heard about, in seemingly fairy-tale stories... about the bond between horses and children, that horse changed from a tiger into a kitten when he was around Tara. He dropped his head and followed her around his new corral. Or was it Tara following him?? He didn’t fuss or fight or so much as flick an ear when we let Tara up bareback on him to be led around.

Buddy would lay down and rest his head in Tara’s lap as she spoke to him each and every day. The two of them bonded instantly and there was a trust and love between them that can’t be described. So many days you would find them out sitting in the middle of the corral side by side. If Buddy could have come in the house, I don’t doubt for a minute that Tara would be sharing her bed. We even borrowed a trailer from friends so we could camp out beside him at night to awake to his call for Tara in the mornings. Magical! Buddy became to all of us, a very special and important family member. To have been able to give this experience to Tara was the wish of all wishes.

Aware of Tara’s passing in February 2003, it must be mentioned, this bond these two shared was stronger than life itself. Sadly as our story goes, we lost Buddy Boom two days prior to loosing our Tara. Coincidence… I think not! Our family basks in the peace it brought us, knowing that Buddy was ‘there’ to lead the way, waiting for Tara.

Bless you ALL!

To the MAW, Thank you! Words just seem so lifeless in comparison of what you gave to Tara and our family; you really do make wishes come true!
Make A Wish Foundation

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