These were the first words I heard from Michael. His daughter, Dr. Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, seven months pregnant with her first child, was murdered on Friday, March 9, 2018 while serving veterans at the Yountville VA. It was and still is...awful. My work, my professional focus involves trauma informed care, specializing in posttraumatic growth. But this is a tough one. How is there going to be anything worthy coming from this? I have known Jennifer for her entire 32 years of life. When she became Dr. Gonzales, graduating from Stanford, specializing in counseling soldiers suffering from PTSD, we worked together. She is Metahab's clinical consultant. Together we provided training at various agencies and with clinicians on how to incorporate the use of Metahabilitation into their recovery and rehabilitation programs. I attended Jenn and T.J.'s wedding one year ago and was with her just 3 weeks before her tragic end - at a lovely family function. She was her beautiful self, looking very pregnant and very happy.
We lost a wonderful person, a dedicated professional, wife to T.J. Shushereba, and mother of their lovely daughter, Cecelia Rose, whom she took with her to heaven. There are no words of real comfort but the hundreds of people who surrounded her and T.J.s family - holding them up, crying together, honoring Jenn was a beginning. As I told Jennifer's parents, I am in this for the long haul. Now, but more importantly, in 3 months, 6 months, and on.
"How I am going to come back from this?" I simply hugged Michael and said, "one breath at time and by leaning on your friends. Use the love and support from the rest of us." That's all there is for now. This is the grieving time. The disbelief time. The, 'what just happened to my/our life' time. There are no good answers. Only love - holding one up when they cannot do it themselves. Even at the end, Jennifer did that for us. This is the final message on her funeral Mass Card. She loved Winnie the Pooh and especially this message; You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever.
Thank you Dr. Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba. Metahab, your family and friends will never forget you. Your dedication and contributions in assisting the wounded among us as well as your kind and loving spirit is both an inspiration and our motivation. We will follow your lead and spread your message of love, caring for one another and promoting personal strength.
God Bless you Jenn. We will now serve you by taking care of and supporting your family and helping them 'come back from this'.
The Metahab Team
Dr. Joyce Mikal-Flynn