HOUSTON A woman who lost her son in a fatal west Houston day care fire is still grieving, but she s also focused on the difficult recovery of her young daughter, who survived the ordeal.
Despite all 2-year-old Makayla Dickerson has been through the burns to her legs and feet, the skin graft from her arm, the careful steps she takes during physical therapy at Shriners she grins and giggles.
Makayla is one of just three children who survived the February fire that killed her brother Shomari and three other young victims at a day care center owned and operated by Jessica Tata.
I thank God every day I walk around this hospital for her face not being burned. Oh my God. I thank God for just her legs, because her face is so beautiful, Makayla s mother, Tiffany Dickerson, said.
But Dickerson said her son s death is always on her mind. She said because of the way he died, she wasn t able to say goodbye.
I have a lot of dreams about him. It just bothers me that I didn t get a chance to say goodbye to him the way I wanted to. I didn t get to see him. Everyone s telling me that he s gone, but I didn t get to see him. No one wanted me to see him like that, Dickerson said. I don t have any closure. She [Tata] robbed me of all that.
Authorities say Tata left Makayla, Shomari and five other children unattended at the day care while she went shopping.
Investigators believe a pot of oil left on the stove caught fire while Tata was gone, trapping the children inside.
Tata fled the country days after the fire.
She s a coward. There s no words for her. She s running, and she left all these beautiful babies inside a house where they had nowhere to run to, Dickerson said.
Though Tata was finally arrested in Nigeria on Saturday and sent back to the U.S., Dickerson said her capture is small comfort.
She wants to face Tata in court.
I want a front row seat to her trial. I want her to look at me in the front row, and I want her to tell me that she left my kids there. Dickerson said.
She said she also hopes others will learn from the tragedy.
I want this to be an example for future day cares, future people who might leave their kids like this for a short amount of time and show what could happen in a short amount of time. I want this to be an eye-opener for everybody, Dickerson said.
Tata, 22, was awaiting extradition to Texas in a Georgia jail Monday.
She s facing multiple charges, including manslaughter, child abandonment, reckless injury to a child and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
Meanwhile, Dickerson said she ll continue supporting her daughter s recovery and honoring the memory of her son.
He was the only boy in our whole family. I was so proud of him ... He was going to be something special, she said.